Phils' Kingery appreciates road to big league camp

Phils' Kingery appreciates road to big league camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Life could have been completely different had Scott Kingery not had so much faith in himself.

"Every time I think about it, it's pretty crazy," he said.

Kingery, 22, played second base and hit seventh Thursday in a 6-0 victory (in seven innings) against the University of Tampa at Spectrum Field, the Phillies' final tune-up before they play the Yankees in Friday's Grapefruit League opener in Tampa, Fla. Kingery, who is the No. 7 second-base prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, impressed defensively. He also went 1-for-3.

"Kingery looked good at second," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made a play to his left and a play to his right and turned a nice double play. I really like his fielding mechanics."

A little more than five years ago, Kingery sent emails to a few Division I college coaches, looking for an opportunity to play. He had made a commitment with Central Arizona College, a junior college, but he believed he had Division I talent.

"Come see me play this summer," he asked.

The University of Arizona did and liked what it saw. Kingery got a call a couple weeks before classes started there in the fall of 2012. He had a spot as a preferred walk-on.

Kingery ultimately made the team and played his freshman and sophomore seasons in the outfield. He then moved to second base as a junior, and the Phillies selected him in the second round of the 2015 Draft.

Kingery thinks the move to second might have helped him in the Draft, too.

"I think [second base] is more of a position that I can see myself at in the Major Leagues," Kingery said. "You see big home run hitters in the outfield. Not so much center field, center field has quick guys, but I think coming into second base, it's my natural position. It just lets me show off what I have."

Kingery projects as a top-of-the-lineup hitter with speed. Don't forget about that defense, either.

"That's something I take pride in," Kingery said.

Kingery is expected to open the season in Double-A Reading, where he finished 2016. But certainly expectations are high. It is easy to see him roaming second base for the Phillies in the not-so-distant future, although Cesar Hernandez hopes to turn himself into a National League All-Star this year and Triple-A second baseman Jesmuel Valentin is considered a prospect himself.

But Kingery has faith in himself. If he hadn't, he wouldn't be here.

"It's crazy to think about," he said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.