Samford Athletic Department

2016 MLB Draft Profile: Heath Quinn, OF

The 2016 MLB Draft class is short on impact college hitters, especially impact power hitters. One of the few potential impact power hitters in the collegiate class is Samford University outfielder Heath Quinn. Jeff Ellis takes a close look at the Alabama native.

Name: Heath Quinn

Position: OF

HT/WT: 6'2''/190

B/T: R/R

The last two weeks I have left Heath Quinn off my weekend rounds ups, even though he is the hottest player in the country. I knew I wanted to do a profile on him quickly, before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Well, after his start to the year, it might be too late, even though this will be just my second profile.

Quinn is a player I have been familiar with since his high school days. He was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 12th round of the 2013 draft. I know from talking to people that the Indians made an effort to sign him, but were unable to do so. He was described by Bud Grant, who is in charge of the Indians draft, as a guy with a good bat, good arm, and good speed.

Quinn instead enrolled at Samford University in Alabama, where he has a chance to be just the second major leaguer in school history (Wendell Magee was the first). He also should be just the second first rounder in school history (Phil Ervin being the other). 

I mentioned following Quinn dating back to high school, and actually heard about him as a junior when he was teammates with future Colorado Rockies first-rounder David Dahl. Quinn was always a big kid, but he showed surprising speed for his size. He played centerfield in high school, but has moved to the corners in college, playing mostly right field for Samford. His speed, which looked like an above-average tool, has turned average as he has filled out his 6’3” frame. His arm is solid and he should have no problems in right.

This season Quinn has seven home runs in just eight games. He has 11 extra base hits in total. His slash line is .545/.579/1.333/1912, and while that is obviously unsustainable, it still has been a lot of fun to watch.

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Entering the year it was Kyle Lewis who was generating all the talk for a hitter from the Southern League. Quinn was a bit of a forgotten man. He was clearly the number two hitter in the league, but Lewis was the only name who got mentioned or made top-50 lists. I know Lewis put up huge numbers last year and looked very good in the Cape. Yet, so did Quinn, who showed power and hit for average in the Cape. Quinn joined Lewis on the All-Star team for the Cape.

It is easy to look at Quinn and see the plus right-handed power that should develop for him. I think his power has a potential future value of 65. I think his hit tool is potentially a plus tool, as well. It's a clean swing, although he does have a bit of a leg kick, which certain teams might try eliminate. I am a fan of not changing anything with a player until it is proven not to work. Thus far everything has worked for Quinn. His power and hit tool will be what gets him drafted early. In a class that is this weak in college bats, and power bats in general, I think that Quinn is only going to see his name rise as he continues to perform.

The questions for Quinn will be the level of competition he faces this season and his defense. I think competition concerns should be helped by the fact he performed well in the Cape, placing in the top five of several offensive categories. The issue with his defense, and possibly his position as well, is what could hurt him the most. He is a better than expected athlete for his size. I mentioned before that he used to have some speed before he filled out. He moves well, but is more an average player in terms of speed. He has the arm to handle right field. I think he could be an average defender in either corner outfield spot. There are some who think he might end up at first. This would hurt his value, as first basemen tend to be valued less than any other offensive position.

Quinn is also going to strikeout a bunch, but who doesn’t anymore? I should point out, though, that every year as his power has gone up, his strikeout rate has declined. This is, of course, a very positive sign. It could change his value significantly, if you don’t trust the small school number, or the short Cape season, and you think he will have to play first. I could see this changing his valuation by rounds, not just picks. Quinn won’t be for everyone, much like Donnie Dewees was not for everyone a year ago.

When I was thinking up comps, there were a few names that came to mind for Quinn. I think the low end is Mark Trumbo, a big guy with big power and nothing else. Trumbo has shown the ability to hit the ball out of the park, but I think Quinn has a better hit tool and will walk more. The high ceiling comp would be J.D. Martinez, one of the top-30 hitters in baseball. My issue here is I don’t like comparing anyone to one of the best hitters in the game, unless I am a bit more confident in the player. The mid-level comp that makes the most sense purely from a skill-level is Nelson Cruz. Cruz was an average defender early in his career. His defense has declined to below average, but he has hit enough to cover up his issues in the field. We are used to the older Cruz, but early in his career he was a decent athlete with some pop and surprising athleticism. The connector for all three of these comps is that they are all average to sub-average defenders in the outfield, right-handed hitters, are at least 6’3” and 230 pounds, and possess 20+ HR power. 

In about two weeks, I will drop my first big draft board. While I don’t think Quinn is on anyone elses top-50, he will be in my top 30. He is a sure first round talent to me, who I expect will start to generate a lot of talk. I think he ends up going somewhere on the first day of the draft, if not in the first round.

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