For the first time in what feels like a long time, Phillies fans are anxiously awaiting the start of Spring Training. This year has a different vibe around the club; only something that going to the World Series can bring to a fanbase.
As we count down the days until the National League champions return to the diamond, it takes me back to previous Januarys, as the progression of the Phillies has taken tremendous leaps and bounds. A few years ago, fans were awaiting Spring Training to see one player. Some proclaimed this prospect the next Chase Utley, and fans could not wait to watch him try and make the team.
This player, of course, is Scott Kingery, a guy who has become almost an afterthought in the minds of baseball fans.
What Happened to the Phillies once-promising prospect?
A brief recap of Scott Kingery’s MLB career can be summed relatively shortly.
Kingery made the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup in 2018 but was blocked by second basemen Cesar Hernandez for the starting job. Then manager Gabe Kapler felt Kingery could best be used as a super utilityman as Ben Zobrist had been for the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
Scotty Jetpax played every position besides catcher and first base his rookie year. This includes a pitching appearance during the season. Kingery struggled to get comfortable against big-league pitching, and the inconsistency with opportunities hurt his game.
In 2019, Scott responded fairly well and improved at the dish. He hit 19 homeruns and 34 doubles in 2019 for a .788 OPS in 126 games. He looked more and more like the prospect he was touted to be. Again, however, Scott did not have a starting role and was blocked by Cesar Hernandez. This forced Kingery to have to continue to play multiple positions.
2020-2022 can be summed up with an injury. Scott had a bad case of COVID in 2020, which took him off his game. He was unable to bounce back before suffering injuries to his shoulder. He has missed a lot of time over the last three years but played in 95 games for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs last year, slowly building back up.
The Phillies are stuck with Scott Kingery for one more season. The team signed him to a 6-year, 24-million-dollar contract once he made the club in 2018. The Phillies tried to be like the Braves and lock down their young player early. The contract has not worked out for the club, and they have an option at the end of this season. Unless Kingery somehow becomes a star overnight, he will likely be cut at the end of 2023.
There is a path for Scott to make the Phillies in 2023. Starting with a good Spring Training, the Phillies would be more than willing to get Scott on the roster for Opening Day. While Kingery won’t start over Bryson Stott or Trea Turner, his versatility off the bench could be an asset for manager Rob Thomson.
Kingery could also be called up during the year if there is an injury to a starting infielder. While we hope that is not the case, having depth is always good.
2023 is probably the final year of Scott Kingery in a Phillies uniform. For a club that is looking to get back to the World Series and win it, the Phillies will put their best nine on the field at all times. Whether or not Scott impacts this season, one way or another, it should be a very interesting Spring Training for #4.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire