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CUTTERS NOTEBOOK: Roman Quinn keeps doing the little things and why you shouldn't worry about Larry Greene Jr.

July 15, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

They are plays lost in the box score. Plays that won’t stand out on a highlight tape. Plays your casual fan more interested in the postgame fireworks might give a golf clap for in a “good effort” kind of tone.

But the coaching staff? Yeah, they noticed the two play from shortstop Roman Quinn during Saturday’s loss to Vermont that could have completely changed the course of the game.

The first, in the box score, was nothing more than a fielder’s choice, an doughnut hole for the at-bat. But it extended the fifth inning and gave the Williamsport Crosscutters their best chance to pull even with the Lake Monsters during the game.

With two outs and runners at the corners, Quinn, hitting from the left side, roped a one-hopper right at second baseman Wilfredo Solano. Standing in his third-base coach’s box, Andy Tracy cursed, knowing for sure Quinn had just hit into an inning-ending double play. As fast as the 19-year old shortstop from Port St. Joe, Fla., is, even he surely wasn’t fast enough to beat this one out.

But he did.

The play was big because Brian Pointer scored on the play to cut Vermont’s lead to 4-2. It was even bigger because after Quinn stole second base on the next pitch, Cameron Perkins doubled down the third-base line to cut the deficit to a single run.

“I don’t know how he beat it out because it’s a one-hopper back to the second baseman,” Cutters manager said of Quinn. “That’s a double play. Automatic. Next thing you know, boom, I look up and he’s safe.”

The other play came in the ninth inning with the Cutters still trailing by a run and Geoff Broussard laboring through his second inning of work. With runners on first and second, John Wooten rolled a grounder into the hole between shortstop and third base.

Quinn, who was shading toward the middle for a double play, somehow got near the baseball deep in the hole and made a dive for it that knocked the baseball down just on to the outfield grass. There was no chance, even if Quinn had come up with the ball cleanly, that he was going to throw out anyone at either of the three bases.

He still gave up his body. Now much can be said about Quinn’s defense this year. His 14 errors in 24 games might give those who don’t seem him play often cause for concern. But it’s never because of a lack of effort or a lackadaisical effort.

In fact, the effort he showed in knocking down the ground ball in the ninth inning in the norm for the second-round draft pick. The play kept Vermont from adding at least one insurance run, and three pitches later, Broussard got Bruce Maxwell to ground up the middle allowing Quinn to turn a 6-3 double play and end the inning without a run scoring.

“The best thing is we notice that (that play). Hopefully they notice that,” Tracy said. “That’s a big thing. It’s something he has a knack for doing. He’s a real special player.”

The offense isn’t the question for Quinn. He’s going to create havoc with his legs, much like he did Saturday in beating out the double play. He’s shown his ability to bunt. He’s shown the ability to beat out infield singles, or shoot a ball to the gaps and run all day.

But he’s beginning to grow as an offensive player. In fact, where he relied quite heavily on bunting early in the season, he’s done less of it lately. Tracy said it’s a good sign. It’s a doubly good sign now that he’s not bunting as much especially from the left side.

In his first year as a switch hitter, the numbers are drastically different. He’s hitting .433 in 30 at-bats right-handed. As a left-hander, he’s hitting just .189 (14 for 74).

Hitting left-handed Saturday against Vermont starter Tyler Vail, Quinn flew out to the warning track in center field. It was the best charge he’s put into a baseball this season.

He’s hitting .260 overall in 24 games.

“It’s been a while since I did that. Since extended spring when I hit my first home run,” Quinn said following the game. “It felt pretty good. I’m feeling real good. Comfortable. I’m hitting balls solid, I just can’t find a hole right now.”

“He’s getting comfortable,” Tracy said. “He’s not trying to bunt as much and that shows me he’s comfortable and trying to swing the bat.”

It could be a deadly combination for the first-year pro if he can mix getting comfortable with the day-in, day-out hustle he’s showing. He’s already Mr. Excitement whenever he’s on the field, what more can he do? Just sit back, watch and enjoy.

POWER OUTAGE? NOT QUITE: More questions come through my email and Twitter account about Larry Greene Jr. than any other player on this year’s version of the Crosscutters. And about 80 percent of them revolve around the fact that the 39th overall pick from last year’s draft has yet to hit a home run.

But there’s so many other things the left-handed hitter from Georgia has done well this year that nobody within the Cutters are focused on Greene’s lack of early-season power. The first-year pro is fourth in the New York-Penn League in walks with 16.

And on top of that, Greene is hitting .333 in his last 10 games and .281 overall.

“He’s hitting good right now,” Tracy said following Monday’s game with Tri-City. “We could talk in a couple days and he might be struggling. Larry feels good and he’s confident and it’s a great feeling when you get in the box thinking you’re going to get a hit every time.”

Greene has made a change in the way he approaches batting practice since starting the season with the Crosscutters. Tracy and hitting coach Rafael DeLima have tried to get him away from trying to elevate the baseball to hit home runs.

Instead they have him focused on hitting line drives, hitting the ball the other way and just making solid contact in general. It seems to have sunk in with the 19-year old left-fielder.

In Friday’s series finale against Tri-City, hitting clean-up for the first time this year, Greene hit a fourth-inning double off the left-center field wall. When he was asked after the game if it felt good to finally drive a ball the other way, Greene just looked up and smiled and said, “oh yeah.”

“The power comes. I think we’re trying to keep him on the path of solid contact and we’ll go from there,” Tracy said. “We know he has power. That’s what we’re trying to hone in on in batting practice. Get out of the air, hit the ball hard and don’t try to lift it. He’ll learn his swing and when to jump on balls.”

 
 

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