Quintin Berry has been on a slide over the past few seasons. His average has fallen from a career-high .312 in 2007 to .266 last season and the trend didn't stop there; RBI numbers dropped from 43 to 28, strikeouts went from 85 to 118, on-base percentage from .395 down to .355 and stolen bases dropped from 55 to 48 over the same period of time. Those sliding numbers were likely the reason why Berry didn't get a somewhat expected promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season and is instead back at Double-A Reading. Plus, there were no guarantees on playing time for Berry, who found himself competing with Tyson Gillies, Domonic Brown and Mike Spidale in Reading's outfield to start the season. Then, after playing in just one game, Berry was on the DL with an infection and would miss three weeks of action.
Once Berry returned, he struggled at the plate until collecting hits in 12-of-14 games and hitting .298 (14-for-47) over that stretch to take his average from .125 to .239 by mid-May. Unfortunately, that .239 mark on May 19 has been the highpoint of Berry's season since then and he's seen his average dip as low as .181 since then.
Perhaps the bad days are behind Berry now, as he was just honored as the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week ending June 13. Berry hit in all five games during the week and hit .500 (8-for-16) over the stretch with a double, home run, five runs scored, five runs batted in and four stolen bases. The streak put his average up to .220, but an 0-for-5 in Monday's morning match-up dropped it back down to .213 heading into a three-game set in Bowie. The worst of all the news is that Berry's on a pace to steal just 41 bases this season, his lowest total since playing in full-season leagues, but with all of the time that he missed and his falling offensive numbers, Berry simply doesn't have the opportunities to steal as many bases as he once did.
So, is Quintin Berry still a legitimate prospect or one of those guys who simply get swallowed up as they move higher among the ranks of the minor league system?
Berry is going to have a tough time pulling his numbers up to where they were last season at Reading and if he puts in a third straight season where his numbers fall, the outlook isn't going to be very good for the speedy 25 year-old outfielder. In fact, if that were to happen, the fact that his numbers again fell and it was his second full season at Double-A would become a scary part of his stats and could spell the end of his time as a true prospect in the Phillies organization. If Berry isn't added to the 40 man roster at the end of this season, he'll be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and it would be interesting to see whether another club would grab him, because it's unlikely that the Phillies would protect him with the type of numbers that he's been putting up.
Berry had the opportunity to play under Tony Gwynn at San Diego State and Gwynn believed that Berry had more overall talent than he did at the same college level. "He's more talented than I was in college - no question. I had the ability to hit the baseball, but he can throw and steal bases. He does everything better than I could do except hit the ball."
In 2008, Berry burst onto the scene with a big season at Lakewood. In his first full-season league, Berry hit .312 and stole 55 bases and posted a .395 on-base percentage, but from there, he slowly started to slide. Perhaps Berry's shortcomings were somewhat exposed when he reached Double-A ball, which is where a lot of hitters run into a big obstacle. The game truly picks up in intensity and speed and pitchers generally can throw all their pitches for strikes. Many players have looked like potential stars until they hit the Double-A level and for some of them, it's just a minor bump in the road and a second season at the same level cures their problems, but for others, it's more of a doomsday.
Berry's defense has remained pretty steady and he's a good centerfielder with at least an average arm, and some believe it's better than average. Even with his good defense, Berry is going to need to hit much better than he's showing right now to play in the majors even as a utility player. If Berry gets back to the basics of simply getting on base and looking to make things happen, he is still going to be able to continue moving up the ladder and perhaps Double-A will wind up being more of an obstacle than a career-ending wall in the middle of the road.
Quintin Berry's career stats