READING - Roman Quinn's bat had barely settled in the dirt by the time he tapped his right cleat onto first base. Double-A Reading's leadoff hitter bunted from the right side, dropped his bat in front of home plate, and sprinted down the baseline.
Blink, and you may have missed it. Quinn was safe in just 3.3 seconds.
The 21-year-old's speed has been a constant through his four seasons in the Phillies system. His quickness is tantalizing. It is what scout's call an "80," the highest on their 20-80 scale. But it is Quinn's growth as a leadoff hitter that could place him on the fast track to Philadelphia.
Entering the weekend, the switch-hitting Quinn was batting .392 this season, his first at double A. It was the highest average for any player in the Phillies system - from Philadelphia to Lakewood. He bunted five times for a hit while hitting safely in 11 of his first 14 games, seven of which were multi-hit games. He had nine hits in 21 at-bats when leading off an inning.
"I think he really enjoys the spotlight and being the first guy to walk to the plate every day," manager Dusty Wathan said. "He's kind of built for that spot. He's really taken to it, and the switch-hitting has come a long way in a short time, especially from the left side."
Wathan said Quinn's speed, consistency at hitting to both sides of the field, and ability to bunt cause defenses to play out of position. There's no defensive shift built to limit Quinn. Anytime Quinn walks to the plate, Wathan said, it is as if there are runners on base. And everyone wants to hit with runners on base, the manager said.
The Phillies drafted Quinn in the second round in 2011. He primarily played outfield at Florida's Port St. Joe High. The Phillies wanted Quinn to play shortstop, a position he said he "dabbled in."
They also told the righthander to learn to hit from both sides of the plate. Switch-hitting, Quinn said, was a struggle. He remembers wanting to quit trying it during his time in the instructional league. It felt like throwing a baseball with the opposite hand, but Quinn kept at it.
"It all came over time," Quinn said. "I started feeling more comfortable with the more plate appearances I would get. The more I was swinging on the left side, the better I would feel. It's added a lot to my game. I never have to see a righty on righty or lefty on lefty. That's the beauty of it."
Quinn's stint at shortstop ended last season. The Phillies moved him to center field, which eventually would allow him to be in the same lineup with shortstop J.P. Crawford, the team's top prospect. They are two of the organization's fastest players, which could bring an exciting dynamic to the top of the lineup if they play for the same team.
"Center field is better-suited for me," Quinn said. "I can show off my range out there. I can show off my speed and my arm."
Quinn spent the offseason working on his speed with Port St. Joe's track coach. Quinn - who played baseball, basketball, and football - did not have time to run track in high school. He said the two worked on Quinn's first step. He wanted it to be "explosive."