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Prospect Quinn works with youth on MLK Day

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Roman Quinn lifted up the netting to step inside the hitting cage Monday afternoon at the Ryan Howard Training Center.

A boy with a bat in his hands patiently stood next to the practice tee.

PHILADELPHIA -- Roman Quinn lifted up the netting to step inside the hitting cage Monday afternoon at the Ryan Howard Training Center.

A boy with a bat in his hands patiently stood next to the practice tee.

"This is one of my favorite drills," Quinn said.

Quinn worked with the boy and other area youth playing through the Phillies' MLB Youth Academy on Monday as part of their MLK Day of Service. Quinn had plenty to offer as one of the Phillies' top prospects. He gave instruction and encouragement as he placed baseballs on the practice tee for a one-handed hitting drill.

"Speaking to a group of kids like this, especially inner-city kids, talking to them, they love the game of baseball," Quinn said. "It's great. They asked me a lot of questions. They asked how I was [at baseball] at their age. Did I win any championships? Did I hit home runs? They were asking all types of questions. It was fun to be around."

Quinn grew up in Port St. Joe, Fla., a small town of about 3,500 people located on Florida's panhandle. The 23-year-old never had a facility like the one former Phillies first baseman Howard helped build at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia. He also never had the opportunity to work -- even briefly -- with a big leaguer like himself.

"Not at all," Quinn said. "So to see something like this is amazing."

Quinn also visited the African American Museum in Center City beforehand.

"It actually means a lot," Quinn said working with the kids on MLK Day. "This is the first time ever in my life that I've done something like this on Martin Luther King Day. It's a special day for me and for the kids, too. I'm just happy to be out here."

Quinn offered his own advice for the kids.

"Have a dream and follow it, however they can to make it happen," Quinn said. "Work hard and work toward something, whether it's professionally [as an athlete] or whether they want to be -- a doctor or a lawyer or whatever they want to be. Have something to work toward."

Quinn has worked to make himself one of the Phillies' top prospects. He hit .263 with four doubles, six RBIs, five stolen bases and a .373 on-base percentage in 69 plate appearances with the big league club in September. He also has tremendous speed and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield.

Quinn had been the favorite to be the Phillies' Opening Day right fielder until the team reached an agreement Monday with free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders. Still, Quinn should be in the big leagues at some point this season, if he stays healthy and performs as expected.

Monday's event began with Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy introducing Quinn, the Phanatic and Chevy's Kelly Kelley, who presented a $25,000 check to be used as the first college scholarship for the Phillies MLB Urban Youth Academy.

Quinn was impressed to be standing inside the training center that Howard built.

"That's pretty dope," he said. "Ryan is a great dude. What he's doing is unbelievable. I salute him for that. It's a great thing for these kids. I see a lot of myself in these kids."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies