Stuck in Purgatory: The Scott Kingery Dilemma
At the start of Spring Training for the Philadelphia Phillies, there was a ton of buzz around Scott Kingery and #JetpaxSZN having a bounce back year. The Phillies hoped that Kingery, who signed a six year $24 million contract before ever playing a game in the majors, would be able to rebound from a less than stellar 2020 season in which he batted .159 with 12 runs, 3 home runs, and 6 RBI.
Kingery had some up and down years to start off his professional career. This year, the Phillies desperately needed someone to come into camp poised to grab the starting centerfield position. They were hopeful that person would be Scott Kingery, who had a very productive sophomore campaign with the Phillies where he slashed .258/.315/.474 with a .788 OPS in 2019.
As we all know, Kingery was everything but that and the Phillies couldn’t make a case for him, or for any other centerfielder to take command of the starting position. The carousel went on, as Adam Haseley started in centerfield then left the team, Roman Quinn was unproductive and is now on the injury list, Mickey Moniak wasn’t ready to be an every day starter, and now we have Odubel Herrera taking over centerfield full-time.
Luckily for the Phillies, Herrera, who started off slow, has found success as of late. Over the last 15 games, Herrera has slashed .292/.358/.458 with 14 hits, two home runs, five RBI, and five walks. Moving forward, he will be the Phillies everyday centerfielder.
With a ton of injuries plaguing the Phillies, they have been forced to bring up Scott Kingery, after being adamant earlier in the season that Kingery would need time to fix his broken swing in the minor leagues before rejoining the Phillies at the major league level.
In yesterday’s 10-8 loss to the Blue Jays, Kingery was thrusted into the starting right field position while Bryce Harper is injured. Kingery has only played nine career games in right field and misplayed two fly balls to right field, and eventually had to exit the game after running into the wall and experiencing dizziness.
For a player like Scott Kingery who is struggling and needs time to work his swing, it’s been hard to do much of anything while serving as a utility bench player in the major leagues. His at-bats are few and far between and he hasn’t been able to consistently put work in to solve his issues at the plate.
Of course, Kingery deserves to shoulder some of the blame, but it’s hard to ignore what the Phillies organization has done to him during his short time with the team. The Phillies (Gabe Kapler) changed his approach and mechanics at the plate. They then told him to ignore the changes, and go back to his original methods once it didn’t work. Now, they are telling Kingery to work on his at-bats, while not giving him the at-bats needed.
The entire process has been extremely frustrating.
Kingery has been bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors. In the minor leagues, although limited, he has found success this season. He had a huge extra-innings walk off triple in early May to propel the IronPigs to a win.
The Phillies don’t have another infielder on a 40-man roster. Ronald Torreyes has been working his way back from a COVID-19 infection. Hopefully, he will be activated Tuesday for the Marlins series. Just this morning, Matt Gelb of The Athletic stated that sources within the organization have begun to explore to remove Kingery not just from the active roster, but also the 40-man roster. Kingery’s head injury yesterday could complicate those efforts.
Scott Kingery is stuck in purgatory and desperately needs to find consistent time in the minor leagues to work on his swing and approach at the plate. The Phillies know that Kingery needs work and Kingery said himself that he is not ready for the majors until he’s able to work on his swing.
For a team lacking depth in essentially all positions, the Phillies will need to rework their depleted roster. Only time will tell if Scott Kingery is a part of that plan moving forward.