Phillies

Gabe Kapler on Roman Quinn: 'Nobody has a weapon like this off the bench'

Gabe Kapler on Roman Quinn: 'Nobody has a weapon like this off the bench'

CINCINNATI — Gabe Kapler is pumped about having Roman Quinn on his roster.

“I think it’s fair to say that nobody has a weapon like this off the bench,” Kapler said Friday afternoon.

Quinn, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, was called up from Lehigh Valley and in uniform for Friday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. He has top-of-the-scale speed that rivals Billy Hamilton, the Reds’ starting centerfielder.

“I think Roman is a fairly unique commodity in baseball,” Kapler said. “Their guy, as far as I know, plays just about every day. I’m not sure there is a bench option like Roman Quinn. He’s an 80 (on the 20-to-80 scouting scale) runner, so there’s really no one who’s a whole lot faster if there are those who are faster. He switch hits, he plays the infield, he plays the outfield. He’s a pretty unique weapon.”

Kapler said he would use Quinn in a variety of spots when the game is on the line.

“It’s not dissimilar to the way we think about our best relievers,” Kapler said. “If we identify a really good opportunity to use Roman, we’ll use him.

“He’s going to get some starts. We’re going to mix him in to give other outfielders a blow from time to time. We’ll identify good matchups for him and we’ll stick him in the lineup when we feel like it's the right time. He’ll run. He’ll play defense. He’ll hit. We won’t save him as a bullet. It’s not like, ‘Let’s wait for the perfect time to deploy him as a pinch-runner. Let’s wait for the eighth or ninth inning.’ No. If he’s the right guy in the sixth inning, we’ll use him in the sixth inning. We’ll use him as a double-switch option. We’ll try to get him a start as soon as possible to make sure he’s comfortable.”

Quinn could get a start in Fenway Park’s spacious right field on Monday or Tuesday, especially with the Phils lining up to face lefty David Price in that two-game series. Kapler could look to keep lefty-hitting Nick Williams away from Price.

Quinn has shown his tools on both sides of the ball the last two years in spring training. He was arguably the most exciting player in camp in 2017. The previous September, he played in the majors and showed off his arm with a 96-mph strike from center field to home plate to throw out a runner.

But there’s always been a major blemish on Quinn’s résumé, not that it’s his fault. He has been plagued by injury for most if his professional career. He has missed time over the years with a torn Achilles tendon, a torn left quadriceps, a concussion, a strained elbow ligament and, most recently, with a torn ligament in his right middle finger, which required surgery in May and more time with the Phillies’ injury-rehab specialists in Clearwater.

“It just drives me nuts to be in Clearwater, to be honest with you,” Quinn said. “Any time I have to see those guys again, they’re like, ‘Man, what are you doing here?’ It’s always something. It’s always around the same time of the year. What mostly bothered me was just missing at-bats again. You’re getting into a rhythm and a groove during the season and it’s something you want to maintain, then it’s like starting all over again. It sucks.”

Quinn played five games in the minors over the last week, was 6 or 16 with a double, three walks and two stolen bases. That and his return to health was enough for Phillies officials to add him to a bench that needs upgrading.

Quinn is predominantly an outfielder, but he played shortstop in the low minors, worked at the position in spring training and still carries an infielder's glove. Kapler would not hesitate to use him there in a pinch.

“Whatever role I need to play to help the team win, I will do to the best of my ability,” Quinn said. “If that’s coming off the bench, if it’s starting every day — whatever the team needs me to do, I’m going to do.”

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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