The first thing you notice about Scott Kingery is how damn healthy he looks. His somewhat slight frame appears perfectly toned with a deep brown tan, and when he flashes a smile his perfect teeth sparkle, diverting your gaze from his perfectly coiffed hair.
If he hadn’t walked on at Arizona State as an undrafted, un-recruited high school ball player he probably could’ve modeled something. Hell, he might still do that if he conquers baseball stardom.
On Saturday, a very large crowd gathered in front of the Oxford Valley Mall’s Dynasty Sports, the sports memorabilia store that was hosting an exclusive signing event for Scotty JetPax, the nickname given to Kingery by one of his college teammates after he stole home. When Kingery entered the room and sat down you could feel the excitement from the fans. It’s like they know that Kingery will be a big part of the next wave of Phillies players that could bring the team back to national relevance.
I spoke with Kingery after the signing event.
Q: You were the first second basemen taken in the 2015 draft. Were you aware of that?
A: I wasn’t [aware of being first second basemen drafted]. That’s pretty cool. It’s even more flattering because I had just started to play second my junior year. I was pretty much an outfielder throughout college – right field, center. Coming into that draft I wasn’t super comfortable there, and to be taken that high and as the first second basemen is awesome.
Q: Who’s your favorite second basemen?
A: Probably [Dustin] Pedroia. I just think with his size and the way he plays, he really inspires me.
Q: You were undrafted and not recruited coming out of high school because scouts thought you were “too short.” Do you think that would happen today with guys like Jose Altuve killing it in the majors?
A: Probably. These scouts have their mandates and size and strength are what’s really appealing to them. They have their job to do and they have to go with what runs the best odds of success in order to keep their jobs.
Q: Did you buy anything cool with your signing bonus [$1.26M]?
A: I bought my car, a Jeep Cherokee. That’s pretty much it.
Q: You played high school ball with Kevin Cron [drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 14th round of the 2011 draft], and college ball with Kevin Newman [drafted by the Pirates in the 1st round of the 2015 draft]. Do you still keep in touch with them?
A: Yeah, with both of them. I’m going to be in Kevin Newman’s wedding this fall. We talk all the time. Both those guys are doing really well and are good friends.
Q: What do you think your walk-up song will be in the majors?
A: Probably “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. It’s what I use now and it seems to be working for me.
Q: Howie Kendrick got traded last night. Is it exciting for you to have moved one step closer to the majors by moving up the depth chart?
A: Yeah but I think that helps Rhys [Hoskins] more than me. He’s in is Rule 5 year so he’s going to have to be added [to the 40-man roster]. I just have to wait my turn.
After driving down from Allentown and spending the morning with a gaggle of fans and having to answer my questions, all he did was drive back and go four for five that night with a double and the game-winning single for his IronPigs.
See you in Philly soon, JetPax. Rule 5 eligibility or not.