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Mailbag #25: The Scott Kingery Hype Train

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Hope abounds

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

No one got hurt this week and Aaron Nola had a healthy start, so Spring Training continues to go about as well as Spring Training can go. No prospect spotlight this week as I am short on time, so right into the questions.

Mailbag:

The Phillies had pretty much the same offseason plan I would have. I like the Hellickson QO, as well as the Blanco, Saunders, Coghlan, and Benoit signings. That leaves this as the deals to evaluate:

  • Trade for Clay Buchholz
  • Trade for Pat Neshek
  • Trade for Howie Kendrick

I have the benefit of hindsight to know what deals were signed. With that, I make the Buchholz trade again because of the lack of one-year pitching contracts on the market. I don’t love Buchholz, but he has the upside to have trade value this offseason. I think I would have preferred a left-handed reliever to Neshek, which means having Boone Logan or Jerry Blevins taking the same one-year deal with the Phillies and not a contender. There are a couple of RH RPs I would prefer to Neshek, but the Phillies needed the arm and most of the one-year deals saw relievers go to contenders, so who knows? Instead of Kendrick, I would have cut Darin Ruf and started Altherr and/or Quinn in the outfield. But I also don’t know about the intangibles involved or anything like that.

Yes this is all boring, but the 40-man crunch and young Major League players really limited the Phillies in what moves they could make this offseason.

I am going to go with this as the year the US breaks through. I think their lineup matches up with all the other teams in the tournament, but with the whole thing divided by games and not series, I am going to go with the team with the best bullpen. If Archer or Stroman can get them four good innings, the US is going to be able to play matchups with Jake McGee, Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Nate Jones, Mychel Givens, and Tyler Clippard, and then back that up with closers like David Robertson and Sam Dyson, while having the ultimate shutdown guy in Andrew Miller. They won’t push Miller like the Indians did in the playoffs, but he allows the US to reliably hold games to 8 innings.

In terms of the tournament in general, I love the Venezuelan lineup. I also am incredibly interested to see the Netherlands infield with Profar, Schoop, Bogaerts, Gregorius, and Simmons, and the Puerto Rico infield with Correa, Lindor, and Baez.

*[sic] for years instead of hrs, as gzig notes in a follow-up tweet.

After the draft, I thought Kingery might reach the majors by the end of 2017. I revised that to 2018 this offseason. So, I actually think Kingery is marginally farther away from the Majors now. Part of this was his fade at the end of the 2016 season, and some is the emergence of Cesar Hernandez turning from a black hole into a plus for the Phillies. Given that Kingery does not need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, I think it is more likely he breaks camp with the 2018 Phillies than it is that he makes the 2017 team at some point. Since the draft I have become less confident in Kingery’s ability to hit at a high, high level because of his late-season struggles in Double-A, but I have become more confident in his glove (he has become a plus defender at second) and to some extent his power (he got bigger this offseason and it has shown up in his two home runs to date this spring). I still don’t see a star, but he can be a nice player and if he is not one of your top 4-5 hitters you are doing great.

I spent a lot of time agonizing over this question. I made lists of pitchers, I started assigning his time to each of them. But he really needs to spend time with groups.

So let’s say 10 hours to talking to Velasquez, Nola, and Eickhoff. Then another 10 hours to the AAA guys like Appel, Eflin, Thompson, Lively, and Pinto. Then I think the last 20 hours I would set him loose on the low minors backfields. Have him work with guys like Kilome, Medina, Sanchez, Gowdy, Falter, and others. I don’t know if Halladay is going to fundamentally change anyone unless you devote his entire time to one player, so with that in mind you just expose as many players to him as possible.

It is still early for anyone to be a disappointment. Most of the pitchers have pitcher one or two games and the hitters are all at about 10 trips to the plate. People can be exciting or new, but it is hard to say anything is a bad trend. That leaves the only disappointment as the Victor Arano injury.

This is tough because there aren’t many secrets in the higher levels of the system. I will go with Tyler Goeddel. He has been buried for a while because he was a Rule 5 pick, but he is probably on par with a player like Andrew Pullin. And I think by June/July I think he could be a guy we are talking about as a legitimate “prospect” again.

Last year was make or break time for Walding and he made it. He made the swing adjustments last year to tap into his power to his pull side, so I don’t know if there is any more power in there. If he hit 20 over 600+ PAs, that is probably his peak, but I think the power peak is more where it was in 2016 where he is a 15 home run a year guy. Even though his glove is good and made those improvements at the plate, I just don’t see a Major League player in Walding.

Yes, yes, and yes. Cheap tickets get people in the ballpark and make them baseball fans. The Spring Ticket package is a good example of this. It gets people in the park early in the season and makes it easier for them to be fans. Instead the emphasis for attracting young people has been about changing the game. Not everyone is going to love stats or watch all 162 games, but it is important to create fans that feel positively about your team and will go spend a day at the ballpark spending money on concessions and tickets. It really isn’t that hard.