News broke yesterday afternoon that second baseman and leadoff hitter Cesar Hernandez will miss the next six weeks with what is being called a strained oblique muscle.With Hernadez hitting the disabled list for an extended period of time, the Phillies are going to have to make a roster move to give them another infielder. Now, over the last few games, it’s been Howie Kendrick manning second base, a position he began his career at with the Angels. Since then, he’s bounced around, playing third, some first and, most recently, left field. But Kendrick is a true professional, and can fill the role admirably in the short term.
With that being said, the Phillies may want to take a long term approach to the next month and a half. If they were to take that path, there’s really only one logical move, and it’s one that the fans would love to see. That move is to promote second baseman Scott Kingery, bypassing AAA and calling him right up to the show.
Kingery has torn the cover off the baseball this season and has been solid with the glove. In 58 games and 232 at bats, Kingery has mashed to the tune of a .306 batting average, with 18 home runs and 35 RBI’s, and has added 14 stolen bases as well. He’s cooled off, slightly, over the last two weeks, as he’s hit under .200 since June 1, dropping his average from .323.
With that being said, however, I don’t think that’s a hindrance on Kingery’s ability to hit the baseball at a high level. He’s ascended from Lakewood to Reading in less three full seasons for a reason, and that’s because the guy knows how to hit. He’s 23-years-old and could provide a spark for the Phillies at second base. More importantly, it may gives some extra fans an incentive to go to the ballpark for a couple of weeks if the kid can hold his own at the Major League level. That’s a win for everybody. Kingery gets Big League playing time. The team gets a solid look at him. The fans get something new and exciting to cheer about. The owners get ticket sales. It’s a win-win-win-win sort of deal.
That’s, of course, if Kingery gets called up and performs. There is always the risk of Dominic Brown-ing it. Yes, Dominic Brown just became a verb. He’s probably also an adjective and a swear word in some houses at this point. But Kingery could come up and simply not be ready to compete at the highest level. What makes him exciting also makes him raw: his age. He and I are the same age. In fact, if you break it down to months, I’m actually four months older than him. (Thanks, Scott, for making me feel old for the first time in my life) He could be overwhelmed by the speed of the game, since making the jump from AA to the Majors is not the easiest transition. If he falters, you’re looking at another player that the fans will say isn’t who they thought he was going to be. That’s not necessarily fair to a 23-year-old, but it’s become the nature of the city.
I can’t imagine the pressure that will be put on the kid if he’s thrust into the starting role for the Phillies that young, but the risk is worth the potential reward if you’re Matt Klentak. If he’s truly ready, you’ve got yourself the another piece for the club. If he’s not, you send him back down, let him rake on minor league pitching for another two years, and bring him back when he’s 25. With Hernandez missing substantial time over the next few months, I think it would behoove the Phillies to call up Kingery and see what he’s got. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll find themselves another piece to the puzzle that’s been building for far too long now.
This likely slams the door on Hernandez making a trip to the All Star Game, by the way. If you want to go back and check my last article, that means the Phillies will be represented by either Aaron Altherr of Pat Neshek this year.
Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports