With their second round pick (48th overall) this year, the Phillies drafted second baseman Scott Kingery out of the University of Arizona. The 21-year-old quickly signed his first professional contract and was assigned to the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.
In college this year, Kingery sported a .392 average while being named Pac-12 player of the year.
In 13 games since making his professional debut, the righty batting speedster has posted a .200 average with a double, a triple and four RBI.
This week I spoke with the Arizona native about his draft experience, how college ball prepared him for the minor leagues, his impressions of the Phillies and much more. Read ahead for that interview.
-What was your draft experience like? How did you track it and how did you celebrate?
It was a pretty crazy experience, a lot of stuff going on, seeing what pre-draft workouts you’re going to go to, all the scouts are calling you seeing what you’re signability is. It was a really crazy process leading up to the draft and just, really, I was just really nervous the whole time watching the draft, not knowing where you’re gonna go, not knowing if you’re going to get a call or not. But once it happened, it was fantastic. I had my friends with me, so they all got excited, I got excited. I was just really happy I got picked up.
-Was there any level of surprise that the Phillies took you? Had you been in touch with them a lot?
Well, my area scout, the night before the draft, called me and said in an ideal world we can get you and (Kevin) Newman, my double play partner at the University of Arizona, so I had a hunch that they were going to go after me, if I was still there, so I was there and they took me. I’m glad.
-I want to get your thoughts on how you feel playing college ball prepared you for the next step of playing in the pros.
Well, our coach Andy Lopez, he’s retired now, but he did a great job of preparing us mentally and he said his biggest thing was he said he’s not only getting us ready for baseball, but more importantly he’s getting us ready to be successful in life and where ever we go from there. And he did a great job of getting us mentally tough and getting us excited to play and being ready to get after it every single pitch. It really helped me get to this level and where I’m at right now.
-I imagine you would have played in front of some crowds in college. What is the variance between college crowds and the crowds here in Lakewood?
I mean (Saturday) was my first home game, so there was a ton of fans and it’s a way bigger park, a better experience. There was a lot of good stuff going on at the University of Arizona, but I mean the excitement that’s out here right now, it’s crazy compared to college.
-So through your first 10 or 12 games as a professional player, what’s your level of satisfaction with how you have performed?
I mean, I wish I could be doing better. I hit some balls hard and they were right at people. I’m definitely hitting the ball well but I need some to start falling here and there. Defensively, I feel like I’m playing great, I’m just trying to get these few series under my belt and get going from there.
-What is the feedback you might be hearing from your BlueClaws coaches after they’ve seen you play a bit?
I think they’re all excited and I’m excited to play with them as well. It’s a great group of guys and they’re just ready for me to start getting after it and finally become part of the team and start trying to get that second half championship.
-You grew up in Arizona as well, so coming from out west, what were your impressions of the Phillies prior to joining the organization?
I really didn’t pay close attention to any of the east coast teams. I was more paying attention to the guys in the N.L. West and stuff like that. You know, being a Diamondbacks fan, a hometown fan, growing up. I didn’t really know much about them. Obviously, I watched them in 2008 and know some of their players, but it’s a great opportunity for me right now to be a part of this organization.
-Who were some pro players that you watched while you were coming up that you may have wanted to model your game after?
I really like watching Ian Kinsler play. I mean, back in the day I liked watching Tony Womack playing. I was a big D-back fan, so it’s kind of been more Justin Upton, I remember watching Steve Finley, Tony Womack, Junior Spivey, those guys. I remember watching Chase Utley too and what a great player he was and still is. It’s just been fun growing up, getting to watch all these guys and now being a part of it is just awesome.
-You talked about all those guys leaving impressions on you. What is it about your game that might leave impressions on the kid watching baseball out here today?
My bat’s always been my strong point and the ability for me if I find a gap I can run a little bit, so maybe stretch some doubles into triples and singles into doubles. Definitely on defense, I’d say I’ve got some range, so maybe a ball in the hole, laying out and making a good play. So, I’d say those are my best things to watch.
-You mentioned that you can run a little bit, but the scouting reports on you would rave about your speed. Looking at your stat line, you haven’t swiped a bag in the pros yet. Are you anxious to get that out of the way?
Oh, definitely. I was anxious to get my first hit, but thankfully that came in my first at bat. But, I gotta get that first stolen base out of the way and get rolling from there.
-We talked about your speed and I think that factor of your game inspired your Twitter handle. What’s that handle and talk about that a bit…
It’s @ScottyJetpax25, but I mean it was against ASU, Drew Stankiewicz‘s team actually, a few years ago. There was a play and I had took off from third for home and came back in the dugout, scored, and one of my teammates said, “Woah, it looks like you turned the jet packs on out there,” and it kind of took off from there.
-Did you get a lot of fan reaction or new followers on there after you became a Phillies pick?
Oh yeah, a ton! I think I got 400 in one day or two days- it was crazy.