The Kingery Shortstop Dilemma

Last week Matt Gelb wrote about the difficulty the Phillies are facing with trying to compete and trying to develop their young players. There is no player at the center of this more than Scott Kingery. Coming into the year, Kingery didn’t look entirely major league ready. He was coming off a strong spring, but his AAA numbers were not great, especially with regard to his approach at the plate. Despite this, the Phillies saw enough upside to sign him a large contract and send him right to the majors.

The problem was and has been that Scott Kingery is a second baseman and the Phillies already have a solid second baseman. The Phillies have tried to deal with this by shoehorning Kingery in at other positions. Kingery can play a competent outfield, but outside of the Rhys Hoskins’ brief 10 day trip to the DL the Phillies have had 4 outfielders they all want to get playing time. That leaves shortstop and third base. At shortstop the Phillies have another top prospect in J.P. Crawford who is known for his glove, and at third they have a former top prospect in Maikel Franco who the Phillies would like to see improve. When Crawford was out with an arm injury, this all made some sense because the Phillies didn’t have another shortstop and it got Kingery’s bat in the lineup for development. Continue reading…

In Signing Scott Kingery the Phillies Show the Complicated Process of Building a Young Core

On Sunday, the Phillies announced both that Scott Kingery would be on the opening day roster and that they had agreed to a 6 year deal with 3 options years. There is a lot going on in that statement, both for the Phillies and Scott as baseball entities, and for the two of them as financial entities.

It is probably best to start with the ugly part first, the financial aspect of this contract. For the Phillies, they guarantee Kingery the most money ever to a player with no MLB service time and a contract that is at least market compared to other early pre-arb contracts. In theory, the Phillies are taking on a lot of risk here. Kingery has some flaws, flaws that are why he is a good, but not top in the game prospect. The problem is there is no actual risk. The Phillies are paying $8M in the 6th year of this deal, which is a tiny bit of money in relation to their overall revenues and not a huge overpay if Kingery is just a solid utility bench player by that point in his contract. Kingery’s profile plays well into this as well. He is a good defender with great speed, and a good feel for contact. On its own, he is a fine utility infielder. His question marks are in his power and on base abilities. He has answered a lot of questions about whether his power is at least average, but the questions on his approach still remain. He does not have a long track record of struggle, he just lacks the upper minor league track record of success (it is a small sample size when talking about walk and strikeouts rates). The Phillies take on very little risk here, and the upside of this deal is that they just locked up an All-Star caliber player for his entire prime, for less than $7M AAV over the course of the 9 years of the deal. Continue reading…

Scott Kingery and Tom Eshelman Win Paul Owens Award

The Phillies announced that a pair of IronPigs had won the Paul Owens Award for the best minor league pitcher and hitter in the system this season. The award is supposed to combine some level of performance and prospect pedigree. On the hitting side recent winners include Darin Ruf, Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, and Rhys Hoskins. On the pitching side over that time period the names are much less illustrious with Tyler Cloyd, Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Ricardo Pinto, and Ben Lively all taking home the award. Enough of about past winners and more about the current winners.

It is hard to argue that Scott Kingery had a better hitting year than Rhys Hoskins, but Hoskins won the award last year and his resume in the majors kind of makes things unfair. What you can argue is that Scott Kingery had the best all around season of any Phillies prospect. He hit .304/.359/.530 between AA and AAA. He has 26 home runs and 29 stolen bases. He played high level defense at an up the middle position. His walk and strikeout rates in AAA leave a little bit to be desired, but don’t detract much from his overall success. Kingery could step into the lineup on opening day if the Phillies trade Cesar Hernandez this offseason, and with Crawford’s promotion he is the best position prospect the Phillies still have in the minors. Continue reading…