- TEAM: Philadelphia Phillies
- AGE: 23
- POSITION: Second base
- BATS: Right
- THROWS: Right
- HEIGHT: 5-foot-10
- WEIGHT: 180 pounds
- ACQUIRED:The Philadelphia Phillies selected Kingery in the second round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Readers of these scouting reports may want to learn about Philadelphia Phillies prospects who will be featured in the future. Kingery is just one among many young men who will grace the dugout of the parent Phillies sooner rather than later. The organization is loaded with top-quality position players and some up-and-coming pitchers as well. Kingery is one of the best among their crop.
Kingery is not a flashy player. He is a solid second baseman with a good hitting tool and emerging power. He also has enough speed to steal or take an extra base. There isn’t one overwhelming tool that will carry Kingery to the Phillies. Rather, he is a compilation of good skills and savvy, heady play.
Even though Kingery has a second baseman’s build and isn’t big and strong by today’s player standards, he has enough pure power in his approach to barrel the ball to the outfield gaps.
Lately, however, he has been hitting home runs at a surprising pace. He has 22 homers this year. Four have been hit at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he is currently assigned following a promotion from Double-A Reading. While at Reading in the Eastern League, Kingery had 18 homers and 44 RBIs. He also has 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts.
During a discussion I had with him at the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game, Kingery told me he has been warned by his coaching staff about the perils of changing his swing to chase home runs. He said he is committed to using the same short and measured swing that usually takes balls to the center of the diamond as he was initially taught. Kingery said he is mindful that his goal is not to hit home runs, but with a big smile on his face he said he enjoys them nonetheless.
Kingery has very good bat control and makes good contact at the plate. He has only 197 strikeouts in 1,239 plate appearances. He can be counted on to put the bat on the ball.
Kingery is a solid defender at second base but at times his footwork can get a bit awkward. He is better than adequate and above average defensively but he’s short of being Gold Glove-caliber. His arm is average, meaning he is purely a second baseman and should not be considered for the shortstop position.
Kingery’s range at second base is very good due to his quick feet and first-step quickness. He gets to balls quickly and can turn a double play with good footwork and accurate throws. His range is probably the best overall aspect of his defense.
Perhaps my biggest concern is Kingery’s stamina. When I saw him play in last season’s Arizona Fall League, he looked spent. That was following his second season as a professional, when he played in 131 games. He began the year at Class A-Advanced Clearwater in the Florida State League and ended at Double-A Reading in the Eastern League, where he started this 2017 season. That quick jump to Double-A in his age 22 season signaled the Phillies are taking a fast-track approach with their second baseman of the future.
Slight of build, will he be able to withstand the heat and humidity that comes with the dog days of summer? He may be the type of player that will need a breather and a couple of extra days off than the norm. His stamina has to be monitored.
In the Fall League, Kingery hit only .234 playing for Scottsdale. He played in 20 games and got 88 plate appearances for the Scorpions. He did hit three doubles and one home run, but he wasn’t a high-profile player coming out of the league in late November.
It is also a bit concerning that Kingery has begun to hit home runs in bunches. Yes, it’s always great to hit the ball out of the park. Consider, however, that Kingery went from hitting a total of five home runs in 586 plate appearances in 2016 to his current 22 in only half a season. What has changed? Can he keep that up or, as stated above, will he change his swing to fetch home runs?
Kingery played baseball at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix. He hit .485 as a senior with 10 home runs. He was named a first-team Louisville Slugger All American.
Kingery has an identical twin brother named Sam who also played baseball. Sam went to Northern Arizona University.
Scott was an all-state athlete and in some circles an All-American high school player who seemed to be ignored by college recruiters. When he didn’t get an invitation to play college ball or a scholarship offer, he ended up as a walk-on at the University of Arizona. His high school coach told him that college coaches believed Kingery was too short to play competitive collegiate baseball.
Kingery was persistent in his contacts with college coaches as he sought a chance to make a college team. He sent letters and made as many contacts as he could until the University of Arizona responded. They had seen him play during the year and he didn’t have a good game. He did, however, impress them in his subsequent tryout. He eventually made the team but played without a scholarship.
After his junior year, Kingery was named Conference Player of the Year and became a second-round draft pick of the Phillies. He hit .392 and led the Pac-12 Conference in hits (92) and runs scored (53). His teammate and middle infield partner at University of Arizona was Kevin Newman, a highly rated shortstop prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates who was the 19th player chosen in the first round of the same 2015 draft. Newman will be the subject of one of these scouting reports in the near future.
Physically, Kingery has grown some and added weight since high school. But he looks much like many other second basemen that aren’t very tall, so his size is far from alarming.
Kingery impressed scouts when he played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod Summer League. He was named an All-Star and hit .312 in 33 games.
No stranger to high stakes baseball games, Kingery played in the 2006 Little League World Series as part of the Ahwatukee Little League (Phoenix) team.
THE FUTURE FOR KINGERY:
There is little keeping Kingery from becoming the Phillies second baseman for many years. Promoted this season from Double-A to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, perhaps he needs some time to adjust to better quality pitching before he gets the phone call for the final leap. But soon enough, Phillies fans will grow to admire and cheer for Kingery’s hustle and determination.
Kingery could become a home run threat in his friendly home park, just as he was when playing in Double-A Reading. If he hits those homers without compromising his sweet swing, all will be well in his world. However, if he extends the strike zone and lengthens his swing, he will play into the hand of the pitcher and lose his solid hitting edge. I do not want to see that happen. But Kingery is human and those 22 homers he has smoked this season can be mighty tempting for a 20-year-old prospect trying to make an impression on the front office.
Kingery has accomplished a great deal for a young man who walked on to the team at the University of Arizona, then gained the attention of scouts. He was drafted in the second round and has played only parts of three professional seasons. And here he is, knocking on the door of the parent Phillies and waiting to become their regular second baseman.
Kingery isn’t a big man by today’s baseball standards. Many high school coaches believed he was not big enough to play competitive college baseball. However, the coach at the University of Arizona and his staff saw things a bit differently and allowed Kingery to walk on without a scholarship. Kingery excelled at Arizona and earned a fine contract from the Phillies in the 2015 draft. He has improved consistently since that day and has soared through the team’s farm system with good hitting, good defense, very good speed and increasing power.
The Phillies are really a team to watch for the future. They not only have Kingery and Rys Hoskins for the infield, but their No. 1 prospect is highly touted shortstop J.P. Crawford, a player most scouts believe can make an impact at the big-league level. I feel his game is overrated. But he’ll be the team’s shortstop, forming a double-play combination with Kingery for many years. The Phillies are deep in organizational position players that may help them fetch some unmet major league-ready pitching needs for the future. But Kingery and Crawford as the middle infield of the future seem secure in the roles that await them.
Kingery is the type of player who fans will root for because he makes big things happen from a smaller package. In today’s game, it is refreshing to see his hustle and competitive spirit against bigger and stronger teammates and opponents.
Look for Kingery to show up on a professional baseball diamond near you as soon as September, if not sooner.
SCOUTING PHRASE FOR KINGERY: A solid player with balanced tools that play at the big-league level.
SCOUTING GRADE: 55 — An above average player capable of exceeding expectations.
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