2018 Player Profile: Scott Kingery
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Though he has never appeared in a big-league game, Scott Kingery is a rich man. The Phillies’ youngster signed a whipping deal with at least $24 million, the biggest contract ever giving to a player who had yet to appear in the big leagues. It’s more than that though as the deal has three options that could total up to $42 million dollars ($13 million in 2024, $14 million in 2025 and $15 million in 2026). That’s potentially $66 million to a guy with no big-league work. Why were the Phillies so willing to pay Kingery that much money and what should be expected in 2018?
23 years old
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 185 lbs
Position: Second Base
Kingery was a second-round pick in the 2015 Entry Draft.
Kingery is a millionaire.
He turns 24 years of age in late April.
He doesn’t have a spot in the lineup, at least not a consistent one.
I’ll address that last point below. For now, let’s talk about skills.
Kingery has a short, simple stroke that shouldn’t need much tinkering with in season. He exhibits good balance in his swing as a result, and his barrel control is also impressive. He’s also adept at pitch recognition allowing him to drive the baseball to the opposite field on breaking pitches or balls on the outer half. As a base runner he doesn’t possess blazing speed, don’t get me wrong it’s impressive but not off the charts kinda stuff, combining those natural gifts with excellent instincts
As to his overall approach, not that he’s hit .282 as a minor leaguer thought he hit .304 in 2017. He’s posted a big league average BB/K ratio of 0.40 though he doesn’t strike out much in this era of the swing and the miss with an average of 91 whiffs per 500 at-bats. He makes a good deal of contact and is often peppering the gaps with doubles (63 the last two seasons). I worry a bit about his batting average, despite the contact, given that his fly ball ratio for the last two years is about 43 percent. That’s far too high for me when talking about a guy that is two inches under six feet who tips the scales at 180 lbs. I really don’t like the idea of a GB/FB ratio under 1.00 for a player that isn’t a 30-homer threat.
A positive is that he didn’t seem to care much who was on the hill in 2017 as his lefty (.307/.352/.601) versus righty (.303/.362/.500) splits show little difference. He hit them both well.
Kingery hit 26 homers with 29 steals over the course of 132 games last season at Double and Triple-A. At this point, he’s probably best thought of as a 15-20 homer bat. With his speed, 20 steals is certainly attainable for righty swinger. Of course, it’s gonna be pretty difficult to go 15/20 if he’s not in the lineup every day.
Kingery has made the Phillies roster on Opening Day, something that no one thought was a legitimate possibility given that there really isn’t a spot in the lineup for Kingery. Here’s what we know.
First Base – Carlos Santana will play this position.
Second Base – Cesar Hernandez is the second baseman. He’s been the Phillies most consistent offensive player the last few seasons (see his Player Profile). He could certainly lose time to Kingery, but how many teams sit their leadoff hitter?
Third Base – Maikel Franco has holes in his game, and hasn’t developed at anywhere near the pace that was hoped for. His attitude and commitment are in question in some arenas as well. Still, Franco leads the Phillies with six homers and 15 RBI this spring in 18 games, and he’s hit at least 24 homers with 76 RBI the past two seasons. The following third sackers haven’t done that each of the last two seasons: Justin Turner, Evan Longoria, Kris Bryant, Eugenio Suarez, Anthony Rendon, Travis Shaw etc.
Shortstop – J.P. Crawford is the Phillies shortstop of the present and the future. His development offensively has lagged behind his glove, but that hasn’t stopped him from being regarded as a better prospect than Kingery (the three major scouting sources all had Crawford as a top-7 prospect in all of baseball in 2016 and in 2018 he’s ranked 16th, 37th and 14th).
Outfield – Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams are already fighting for the three spots.
So where does Kingery play? Unless there is an injury or a trade, he’s not going to be playing a single spot consistently. So, the Phillies are doing what so many teams are doing these days – they are choosing to play a guy everywhere. (1) It’s not easy to do this, wearing a different glove everyday thing. (2) I personally don’t like the idea of taking a rookie and asking him to play all over the field. That’s a whole lot of stuff up in the air if you ask me. But, it’s what the Phillies are going to do regardless of the illogical move that it seems to be.
"In the short term, I think [he can start at] second, short, third, left, center, right," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Maybe at some point, first also becomes an option. It would not surprise me to find out that he could be adequate at first base, without all that much preparation. "All of a sudden, he goes out on his own and takes some balls in center field, and you go, ‘Holy smokes, it’s pretty natural out there,’" Kapler said. "And, oh yeah, he can play the corners [in the outfield] pretty good, too. And all of the things that make him good at second base also make him good at third base."
And the quotes keep on coming from the boss.
"We've been discussing it since the offseason with all of our guys who can play multiple positions," Kapler said. "It's an awesome issue to address. And I think it starts with getting guys blows to keep them healthy and strong. We'll do that with guys all over the diamond. Then Scott gets his reps at positions all over the place.”
Note that Kingery has appeared in 322 games at second base in his professional career. He’s seen action in four games at third base and two at shortstop. Until Spring Training 2018 he was a second baseman, period. Wanting a guy to be more versatile is fine. Talking about a guy playing second, third, left field, right field and maybe even some shortstop... the stupidity there boggles my mind. Maybe that’s why I don’t run a big-league team?
Adding that all up, let’s say this plan works. Where do the at-bats come from? Injuries happen. Trades happen. That said, I can’t see how 500 at-bats is possible given this group. I would put the at-bats at 400 for Kingery at this point, and that’s just not enough to get excited about him in a mixed league.
You all seemed to agree too judging by my quick Twitter poll.
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA
As of this writing, here is the ADP data for Kingery.
Kingery has impressive skills. He’s also never had a big-league at-bat and he doesn’t have a spot in the daily lineup with the Phillies. The potential for a big-time season exists as his power/speed combination is enticing, but there are also two serious issues he has to overcome (PT and lack of experience). Kingery cannot be counted on as a starter in most mixed formats but he is an excellent reserve round add. Problem is, there’s no way you will be able to get him at that cost now.
10-Team Mixed: I have no interest in him here.
12-Team Mixed: As your backup infielder, OK. But I’ve heard from folks that Kingery is going as high as the 10th round in drafts this size. I simply cannot get behind that insanity.
15-Team Mixed: In Tout Wars, a week ago, he was a 24th round pick (he was a reserve round selection in my auction league which equates to the 24th round). Even with a role now, I can’t see that number moving to $14 or the 14th round. Maybe I’m crazy.
NL-Only League: Invest, as you always should have been doing, in this setup. He’s worth an aggressive bid though I would suggest that your middle infielder is a second baseman just in case. Folks forget all the time – it’s not like elite level prospects always hit the ground running and produce right away.