Scott Kingery was in Philadelphia over the winter and was attending a prospect camp for the
Phillies, when Director of Player Development Joe Jordan called him and four others off to the side and told them they were invited to big league spring training.
“Every time you get called up, moved up or invited to big league spring training, that helps you know they think you got what it takes and that you can play with those guys,” Kingery said of the invitation. “For me, it was good for building up my confidence going into the season.”
The Arizona native didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. He slashed .286/.429/.810 with two home runs and a 1.019 OPS. He and Rhys Hoskins were the only players with an OPS over 1.000, numbers that have carried into his stellar 2017 season, in which he leads all of minor league baseball in home runs with 14. His offensive game, along with his stellar defensive at second, immediately made heads turn.
“He’s made a good impression on me and the coaching staff. He might be on the fast track to the big leagues,” manager Pete Mackanin said to CSN’s Jim Salisbury in the spring.
“That was a great experience,” Kingery said in an interview Saturday at First Energy Stadium in Reading. “For me, just to be able to go and get a little time up there with the guys that are already up there and just seeing how they work and what they do on a daily basis. It was a good experience just to get my feet under me and get a little taste of what it’s like up there.”
Kingery was invited to big league camp upon his staggering numbers at single-A Clearwater and promotion to double-A. The 23-year-old hit .293 with 28 doubles in single-A, but just .250 with 36 strikeouts in 37 games in double-A. He played 134 games in 2016 for both Clearwater and Reading, compared to 149 total games in his three seasons at Arizona. His body simply had enough.
“The first full year (as a professional), that was long,” the standout prospect said. “It really took a toll on my body and it showed me what it’s going to be like. For me, I knew I had to get a little bit stronger, put on some weight so I can carry that on through the rest of the season. I had to tweak some things in my off-season program and just get ready for this long season ahead.”
Those days look like they’re well in the past. The 11th ranked prospect in the organization is hitting .290/.369/.665 with those 14 home runs, plus 28 RBI. Another day at the office rewarded him the Eastern League Player of the Week award for May 15-21. The second baseman hit .300 with one double, five home runs, six RBI, and nine runs scored during that period. All impressive numbers, including the power surge, from a 5-feet, 10-inch, 180 pound middle infielder known more for his excellent baserunning and fielding.
“I’m not a power guy,” Kingery said with a chuckle. “Right now, it’s crazy to me too. I’ve been getting some good pitches and putting some good swings on them and they’re leaving the yard. As I move up, I think I’m going to be more of a gap to gap guy – doubles and triples, stolen bases. But for right now, you can’t complain.”
With triple-A second baseman Jesmuel Valentin shelved the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, Kingery could be ascending to triple-A – and the major leagues – before we know it.