Scott Kingery has looked like the best baseball player in Clearwater this spring.
That’s the honest and simple truth. The best second base prospect in baseball has done everything asked of him in the first two weeks of camp, bashing game-tying homers, putting together outstanding at-bats and playing sparkling defense at two positions while working out at a third.
On Sunday, Kingery tallied two more hits and is batting .389 this spring with a double, three homers, four RBIs, a walk and a stolen base in nine spring games. He tied a baseball game up against the Yankees earlier this week down to his final strike with an opposite field homer, an at-bat manager Gabe Kapler called “the best at-bat of the spring.”
Scouts are raving about him, comparing him to players like Ian Kinsler and, dare we say it, Chase Utley. When it’s all said and done, it’s possible it will be Kingery, not Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro or any of the other youngsters making up this Phillies roster, who will end up being the most valuable player of them all.
He looks Major League ready.
Well, don't tell Scott Kingery he can't stick at SS pic.twitter.com/MMTwSssWga— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) March 4, 2018
And yet, he won’t start the season on the 25-man roster.
Folks, it’s OK.
You see, the Phillies already have a second baseman named Cesar Hernandez, who put up a .370 OBP last year. They already have a studly young shortstop in Crawford. Maikel Franco needs one more chance to prove he can play third. And although Kingery saw some action in center field this week, even if he proves to be adept out there, there’s already a logjam at that position.
Having him on the team as a super utility guy may sound like a good idea, but Kingery needs regular at-bats. Last year in AA, Kingery had a walk rate of 8.8% and a strikeout rate of 16.1% in 317 plate appearances. After being promoted to Lehigh Valley, his walk rate fell to 4.5% and his whiff rate went to 20.3%. Taking a few weeks to get those numbers straightened out won’t hurt anything.
There’s also the matter of service time. The Athletic’s Matt Gelb did some calculations and noted that, in order for the Phils to receive an extra year of team control, they could keep Kingery down in the minors to start the season and call him up on April 23, just a few weeks into the regular season.
And while manipulating a player’s service time isn’t the fairest thing in the world to the player, in Kingery’s case, there are also the plate discipline issues to be ironed out, so it’s not a Kris Bryant situation.
So as Kingery continues to tear up the Grapefruit League down in Florida, the urge will be to start him with the big club right away, but there are sound baseball reasons why another few weeks in AAA is the best thing for everyone.
On Episode 179 of Hittin’ Season (formerly The Felske Files), host John Stolnis is joined by The Good Phight’s Liz Roscher and Justin Klugh to talk about Kingery’s future, the never-ending pursuit of Jake Arrieta, the players we’re bearing and bullish on for the Phils in 2018, and our year-end final record predictions for the Phils.
Please note, this podcast recorded Sunday night with Justin and Liz is being offered free for this week only. Moving forward, it will be only available as a reward to patreons of Hittin’ Season through the $5 tier at Patreon. Click the link here to get access to this outstanding bonus material!
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