Scott Kingery was drafted out of the University of Arizona in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft, 48th overall, by the Philadelphia Phillies. In almost eight years since that day, Kingery has seen the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Much like the Phillies, who were in the early stages of a rebuild when they drafted Kingery, and are now entering 2023 off of a World Series run that saw them lose the last game of the season. Scott Kingery and the Phillies look to turn things around in 2023. Kingery looks to make a permanent impression on the Major League roster while the Phillies look to return to the World Series, and bring home a trophy. Both things, realistically, can be accomplished.
Scott Kingery And The Phillies
Before The Contract
After being drafted by the Phillies, Kingery would spend the rest of 2015 in single-A ball playing for the Lakewood BlueClaws. His time in Lakewood was nothing to write home about, a .250/.314/.337 triple slash, but he would move up to High-A and start 2016 with the Clearwater Threshers. In 94 games there, he would hit .293/.360/.411 before getting the call to Double-A in July to spend the rest of 2016 with the Reading Fightin Phils. He would finish the year with Reading hitting .250/.273/.333 across 37 games.
The Phillies would leave him in Double-A to start 2017, where he would be until being called up to Triple-A in June. Through those 69 more games with Reading, he went on a tear. Hitting to a line of .313/.379/.608 with 41 extra-base hits, everyone was clamoring for him to be on the Major League roster. The Phillies, however, did not want to rush his development, nor did they want to start the service time clock on him earlier than they needed to. So, Kingery would finish the 2017 season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He came back to earth with the IronPigs, hitting to a line of .294/.337/.449, still a better line than his production prior to 2017. Just before the start of the 2018 season, Scott Kingery and the Phillies decided that it was time.
The #Phillies certainly believe in Scott Kingery: Sign him to a 6-year contract with three club options
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 25, 2018
On March 25th, 2018, Scott Kingery and the Phillies came to an agreement on a 6-year, $24 million contract that would, theoretically, cover his time under team control. At the time, this was a man that had not seen Major League pitching in a real game. He was the most hyped prospect in the Phillies’ system but had no Major League track record to speak of. That did not matter to the Phillies. They could see the light at the end of the seemingly never-ending rebuild tunnel. And they wanted Scott Kingery to be one of the main cogs in the machine that took them back to the mountaintop.
2018 was an interesting year for the Phillies. It was Gabe Kapler’s rookie season as a manager. Rhys Hoskins’ first full season in the Major Leagues, subsequently being the first 30-home run season of his career. And Aaron Nola was a Cy Young finalist that, arguably, should have won the award. But, for this part of the story, we’ll need to circle back to Gabe Kapler.
Another managerial position has been filled as the Phillies hire Gabe Kapler. pic.twitter.com/jw6byBQ2eZ
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 30, 2017
Gabe Kapler is one of, if not the quintessential Sabermetrics managers in baseball. Heavy shifts, splits determining lineups and pitching matchups, swinging for the fences at all times, super utility men. Kapler didn’t write the book on Sabermetrics, but he damn sure memorized it. Don’t get me wrong. I, personally, am more Sabermetrics leaning in my baseball mind than traditional, too. But, too much of a good thing, is too much. And that is what brings us back to the “super utility men” portion of our broadcast.
Scott Kingery made his way through the minor leagues as a second baseman. A pretty good second baseman at that. One that drew comparisons to Red Sox legend Dustin Pedroia. But, the Phillies had Cesar Hernandez manning the keystone position. No way they could move him to shortstop, right? That only meant that their newly extended 23-year-old phenom second baseman would have to play, well, anywhere but second base.
Scott Kingery played in 147 Major League games in 2018. A whopping four of those came at second base. Kapler utilized Kingery in the Ben Zobrist role of the super-utility man. Now, baseball players are athletes. There is no doubt about that. But not every player is comfortable with moving from position to position. And it was easy to see from his production at the plate, that Kingery was one of those players.
Through 484 plate appearances for Kingery in 2018, he would hit .226/.267/.338 and carry an OPS+ of 61. All while playing at least one inning at every position but catcher and first base. He would fare better in 2019, his best Major League season to date, with a line of .258/.315/.474 and an OPS+ of 101. Since 2019, however, he has only played in 52 Major League games. In those games, he’s accrued 143 plate appearances and hit to a line of .144/.204/.250. He’s been back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors a number of times over that time frame, but the memory of the player he was supposed to still remains.
At the time of writing, Scott Kingery has been a completely different batter this Spring Training. Through 13 games and 37 plate appearances, he holds a line of .394/.459/.515. The main issue for Kingery now is that there is not a clear path to playing time for him at the Major League level. Alec Bohm bounced back to his rookie-year levels of productivity down the stretch in 2022. Bryson Stott has shown flashes of brilliance since his debut last season. And, Bryson Stott has had to move over to second base to make room for perennial All-Star Trea Turner. None of that is to even mention the already overcrowded outfield. Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, and in a few months perennial MVP candidate Bryce Harper. Despite his best efforts this spring, Kingery’s best chance at sticking in the Majors may be as a bench bat.
For Scott Kingery, that would be an improvement. Kingery will be 29 a few weeks into the 2023 season. There is not much more he can improve upon by being in the minor leagues. This season, even if it is as a bench player, Scott Kingery looks to make a permanent impression on the Major League roster while the Phillies look to return to the World Series, and bring home a trophy. Both things, realistically, can be accomplished.
Main photo credits:
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports
Scott Kingery, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, Dustin Pedroia, Cesar Hernandez, Ben Zobrist, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper