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EAST ELMHURST, N.Y.—Before each player on Monsignor McClancy Memorial High (East Elmhurst, N.Y.) trotted out to the field in the top of the first inning on Saturday, they each had an individual handshake with senior outfielder Quentin Holmes. After the handshakes, Holmes jogged up the first base line, then took a 90-degree turn and sprinted out into center field, a ritual he would repeat for all seven innings.
Holmes has some flare to his game. He’s an enthusiastic player but toes the line and isn’t over-the-top and doesn’t flaunt his achievements, and his teammates seem to feed off his energy. On top of all that, he’s the top prospect in the Northeast this year.
Holmes is a pure center fielder with elite straight-line speed that plays well on the bases and in the outfield. He also has some power projection to his game; Holmes made lots of hard contact with a wood bat on last summer’s showcase circuit. He also has some positive elements as a hitter, with an advanced approach for a high school player from a cold weather climate.
On Saturday, Holmes was rarely tested in center field. In the second inning, he made a routine play on a ball hit to his right and behind him, trotting roughly 10 yards to make the catch.
Holmes had two balls hit to him in the fourth inning. When the leadoff batter lofted a ball up the middle, Holmes reacted instantly and took a direct route to the ball for a routine out. Later in the inning, Holmes got another good jump on a ball hit deep into the left center field gap, but the ball wasn’t playable and it landed for a hit.
In the sixth inning, Holmes tracked a ball back and to his left. With the wall approaching, Holmes jumped up the wall and fully extended his glove hand, but the ball was out of his reach and landed for a home run. While the result wasn’t ideal for Holmes and McClancy, the play did highlight Holmes’ instincts in center field and comfort around the wall.
At the plate, Holmes went 2-for-4 with a walk, a single and a double. He was using a wood bat.
“I feel pretty confident about my timing,” Holmes said. “I feel like I’m on every pitch and I’m recognizing the pitches early.”
In his first plate appearance, Holmes worked a five-pitch walk, swinging at no pitches. In his second time up, he hit a 1-0 pitch back up the middle for a single. The next time up, Holmes stayed inside on an outside pitch but popped it up to right field. He flew out to shallow left in his fourth plate appearance.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with his team trailing 10-9 and a runner on first base, Holmes watched the count fill to 3-2 before attacking a fastball middle-in and hitting a hard, low-trajectory line drive to left field. Holmes was moving full speed around second base but had to slow up because the runner in front of him had been held at third.
“I was really just thinking ‘Hit the ball hard somewhere.’ Because if I thought ‘Try to hit a home run, try to walk it off,’ then I would try to do too much with my swing, get to heavy with my hands, drop my shoulder, all that stuff,” Holmes said of his double in the seventh. “So I was just thinking hit the ball hard somewhere and I was looking for a pitch in the zone that I could do that with. The last pitch was pretty middle in and I saw it out of the hand and it just stayed middle in the whole time so I was like ‘All right, here it is,’ and I jumped on it.”
Holmes has a balanced swing. He starts with a spread-out lower half and does not load his lower half pre-pitch. He brings his hands to the ball and stays compact. His head typically stays on plane, and he exhibits sound strike zone judgment and awareness. In total, Holmes saw 17 pitches and he did not swing and miss.
“Mostly the umpires we see, we see that they open their strike zones at different points in the game,” Holmes said in a discussion of his plate discipline. “So later on in the game, he started to expand a little bit, so I let the rest of the guys know that he was expanding a little bit. It’s just seeing where the pitches are and seeing from center field if he’s not calling something low, then I’ll tell the guys, ‘Hey he’s not calling it low so leave it down there.’”
Holmes showed plus speed in the game. After walking in the first inning, he attempted a steal and reached second base 3.25 seconds after his jump, despite pulling up slightly because the batter had hit a home run. On his double, Holmes took long and quick strides around the bases. He turned around first in 4.27 seconds and turned around second in 8.01 seconds.
Holmes showed the potential for at least average arm strength in warmups. He crow-hopped with fluidity and showed carry on his throws. Holmes said he focused on getting stronger and faster this offseason.
“It was a big offseason,” Holmes said. “For the first half of the winter, so up until February, I was going to the track three days a week and working out five days a week in the mornings. I would be hitting half of those days.”
“I was pretty much in the gym every day and working on my legs every day trying to get faster and stronger. I feel a lot more confident with what I can do. I know over the summer I was able to do a lot with my legs, but I feel more confident now than I did before. I have a little more bat control now. The bat feels like a paper clip in my hands.”
Up close, Holmes looks more physical and less wiry than he did last summer, with more definition to his biceps and triceps. He still has room to fill out even more, giving him promising projection as he matures physically. Holmes, the No. 35 prospect in the Top 100 Draft Prospects, played in only his second official game on Saturday, but could draw more attention from scouts in the coming weeks as the weather in the northeast heats up.