On a warm, sunny day in late June, Roman Quinn leads off the seventh inning. His team is up by three, but the visiting Auburn Doubledays have started to gain some momentum.
Quinn lays down a bunt. A footrace to first later, he's safe. No surprise there, but the action isn't over. Forced to rush the play, the pitcher's throw goes into the outfield.
For the crowd at Historic Bowman Field, the show has just begun. In a blink of an eye, Quinn is at second base and wants more. Kids in the stands are jumping up and down, shouting in excitement. These are the situations that Roman Quinn relishes, and Cutters skipper Andy Tracy isn't slowing him down.
He puts his head down and digs for third. The grandstand roars. Headfirst slide, safe!
The formula is pretty simple for Roman Quinn: If the ball hits the ground, there's a decent chance he'll get on base. "It's simple," says Quinn, "put the ball on the ground and run."
Dubbed the "Human Highlight Reel" by members of the Williamsport media, Quinn is electrifying Bowman Field with his speed and athleticism.
"It boosts my average my about twenty points," he adds. "I can hit a routine grounder to the shortstop and beat it out. I look forward to it"
Quinn says he's never been outrun in his entire life, and he knows he has a gift.
"God gave me this ability for a reason. Got to use it." And he's still learning the game of baseball. Quinn was a center fielder his whole life. Now, he's a shortstop. A purely right-handed athlete throughout High School, now a switch-hitter. Once committed to stay on the panhandle to play for the nearby Florida State Seminoles, he's now a resident of north-central Pennsylvania.
A young, untapped bundle of athleticism, the Philadelphia Phillies organization used a second round pick on the Port St. Joe native and is molding their investment into a prototypical leadoff hitter.
And they have plenty to work with.
A product of two hyper-athletic families in small, rural coast town, Quinn jokes that his parents got together solely to create the best athlete the town has ever seen. "I used to think they planned the whole thing to have a really athletic kid," Quinn laughs.
Quinn earned all-state honors and scored 20.6 points per game in his final season of high school basketball, but at five-foot-ten, Roman did not inherit his father's height. He was a dangerous kick returner and defensive back on the football field, but he only weighs 170-pounds. And that's generous.
Baseball became his best option, and he admits that the game is about more than just pure athleticism. "Baseball has the struggling part to it. In basketball and football you can just bring your A-game every night. The mental struggling is new to me."
Roman Quinn is one of the best athletes that Gulf County has ever seen. Perhaps even the best. And those who watch him play marvel at his ability. A coordinator in the Phillies organization called him "as exciting a prospect I've seen in 50 years." And Quinn knows it.
Still, he blushes at compliments. Humility is important to him.
"I hear the things people say, but I don't let it blow my head up. I'll always be humble. I'll always be one of those guys who work hard no matter what. Some guys get cocky, forget who they are. They stop working hard. I can't let that happen to me."
Quinn is still far from a finished product. He ranks among the league leaders in errors. He's struggling to hit left-handed. He makes mistakes.
But Quinn does things that very few prospects can. In just the third game of his career at shortstop, a ground ball is hit up the middle. Quinn makes the long run over to cut the ball off. But the ball hits second base and takes a high hop into the air. Suddenly, Quinn has to adjust. He cuts over to the other side of the bag, snatches the ball, spins 360-degrees and makes a perfect throw to first.
Roman Quinn does things that very few prospects can.
And Williamsport can't wait to see what he does next.