paul owens award

On deck? Phillies' Scott Kingery, Tom Eshelman receive honors in future home

On deck? Phillies' Scott Kingery, Tom Eshelman receive honors in future home

Sixteen players made their major-league debut with the Phillies this season. More players will come as the 2018 season unfolds.

Scott Kingery and Tom Eshelman will likely be among them.

Kingery and Eshelman were at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday to be honored as this year's winners of the Paul Owens Award for top position player and pitcher in the Phils' minor-league system.

Kingery, a 23-year-old second baseman from the Phoenix area, batted .304 with 29 doubles, eight triples, 26 homers and 29 stolen bases between Double A and Triple A.

Eshelman, a 23-year-old right-hander from the San Diego area, went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA and an 0.97 WHIP in 23 starts between Double A and Triple A. In 150 innings, he struck out 102 and walked just 18.

Prior to being honored on the field before Tuesday night's game, both players stopped by the Phillies clubhouse. They were surrounded by many familiar faces, former teammates who'd made the jump from the minors to the majors this season. It affirmed for Kingery and Eshelman just how close they are to reaching their major-league dreams.

"Obviously it’s just one step away," Kingery said. "And every time you see one of your good friends you’ve played with for the whole season make that step up and start doing well, it gives you a little bit of confidence, knowing that, 'Hey, I was playing with these guys yesterday and now they’re making their big-league debuts,' so it does."

Eshelman had a front-row seat for Rhys Hoskins' heroics in Lehigh Valley. Hoskins was the International League MVP and Rookie of the Year this season, and has come to the majors and stroked 18 homers in a little more than a month.

"Rhys is kind of a hometown hero in my town," Eshelman said. "I’ve been getting a lot of text messages and direct messages on Instagram, like, ‘Hey, did you play with this guy?’ It was fun to watch him in Triple A and Double A last year, but to watch him up here doing what he’s doing, it’s incredible. All of these guys. They’re all kind of chipping in. It’s cool to see the success that they’ve had."

Kingery and Eshelman were both selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. Kingery, a University of Arizona product, went 48th overall to the Phillies. Eshelman, a strike-throwing machine out of Cal State Fullerton, was selected by the Houston Astros two picks ahead of Kingery.

The Phillies acquired Eshelman in general manager Matt Klentak's first big trade, the one that sent Ken Giles to the Houston Astros in December 2015. Eshelman came over to the Phils in a package that included headline pitchers Vince Velasquez and Mark Appel. Velasquez has struggled with injury and inconsistency in his two seasons in Philadelphia and Appel has had similar problems in the minors.

Eshelman does not possess eye-popping, radar-gun-wowing stuff, but he throws quality strikes and limits walks. Basically, he pitches.

"He's the best executor of pitches that we have in the system," director of player development Joe Jordan said. "He might not have the type of weapons that get you talked about a lot, but his stuff is plenty good to pitch in the major leagues. He's got four or five pitches and he can use them all. He's great at reading swings. He's smart enough to know when a hitter is sitting soft and elevate a fastball and it will look 94 when it might be 90-91."

Eshelman likely will be invited to big-league camp in February and could make the jump to the majors next season.

"This is an organization on the rise and I’m happy to be a part of it," he said.

Kingery played well enough this season that he could have earned a look in the majors this month, but the Phillies' front office is trying to retain as many young players as possible. Kingery does not need to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter and that will allow the Phillies to add a different prospect to the roster and protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Kingery will be in big-league camp next spring — he was a standout in big-league camp this spring — and could very well be ready for the majors on opening day. That, however, does not mean he will be there. The Phils could look to push his potential free agency back to after the 2024 season by keeping him in the minors for a few weeks at the start of next season. That might not make fans happy, but it makes baseball sense.

The Phils are expected to shop second baseman Cesar Hernandez this winter to clear a spot for Kingery. Ditto shortstop Freddy Galvis as it relates to J.P. Crawford.

"Personally I think I’ll try to block most of that out," Kingery said. "I know it’s probably going to be tough. I’ll probably see some of it. I’m just going to do what I can this offseason to give myself the best shot to come into spring training and have a good year."

Scott Kingery, Tom Eshelman win Paul Owens award for Phillies' top prospects

Cheryl Pursell/USA Today Images

Scott Kingery, Tom Eshelman win Paul Owens award for Phillies' top prospects

Phillies fans have long been clamoring for Scott Kingery to join the big leagues, and while that may not happen this year, his play hasn't gone unnoticed.

Kingery and right-handed pitcher Tom Eshelman have been named the Phillies' 2017 Paul Owens award recipients, given to the organization's top minor league player and pitcher.

A white-hot start at Double A quickly earned Kingery a promotion to Lehigh Valley in June. Overall, the second baseman is hitting .304 with 26 homers, 65 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and 103 runs scored in 132 total games. 

The 2015 second-round pick participated in the All-Star Futures Game in July.

"Scott showed the ability to be an impactful everyday player on both sides of the ball, and that is the most exciting thing," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies Director of Player Development. "The power showed up this season, and he wins as many games on the defensive side as the offensive side. That, and his energetic style of play, makes him an exciting young player with a very bright future with the Phillies."

Eshelman, a piece in the Ken Giles trade with Houston, has developed into one of the Phillies' premier pitching prospects, going 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA between Reading and Lehigh Valley. In 150 innings pitched, the 23-year-old has held opponents to a .223 batting average, while leading all Phillies' minor league pitchers in strikeout (102) to walk (18) ratio (5.67). In 23 starts, Eshelman never walked more than one batter per game.

"Tom was a model of consistency for the entire 2017 season," Jordan said. "His ability to execute pitches is truly special and his ability to command the baseball is going to allow him to be a meaningful rotation piece for our major league club going forward."

In 18 Triple A games, Eshelman allowed one run or less in 10 starts, including six scoreless outings, en route to an All-Star bid. His 2.23 ERA in Triple A ranked second in the International League. 

Phillies honor top minor leaguers Cozens, Hoskins, Lively

Phillies honor top minor leaguers Cozens, Hoskins, Lively

The Phillies put an extra 78 home runs and 18 wins on the field Tuesday night.
No, they didn’t make a late-season blockbuster deal.
Dylan Cozens, Rhys Hoskins and Ben Lively were in town to receive the Paul Owens Award as top performers in the team’s minor-league system this season.
Cozens and Hoskins combined for 78 homers and 241 RBIs in helping the Double A Reading Fightin Phils post the second-best record in all of minor-league baseball. They shared the position-player award.
Lively went 18-5 with a 2.69 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 28 starts between Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley. He won the pitcher’s award.
The Phillies’ lineup Tuesday night featured Roman Quinn in left field, Tommy Joseph at first base, Aaron Altherr in right field and Jake Thompson on the mound. All four of those players, as well as several others on the Phils’ roster, were in the minor leagues at some point this season.
“We’re starting to see these guys here and guys we’ve played against coming up through the minor leagues that are with other organizations in the big leagues,” Hoskins said. “Hopefully we’re next.”
Hoskins, a 23-year-old first baseman, and Cozens, a 22-year-old rightfielder, put on a nightly power display for Reading. Cozens led all of minor-league baseball with 40 homers and 125 RBIs. Hoskins hit 38 homers and drove in 116 runs.
“We definitely fed off each other, I’d say,” Hoskins said. “Hitting is contagious. I think the whole lineup kind of did that all year.”
Hoskins does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster this offseason. It would seem likely that he’d get a look in big-league spring training camp before heading off to Triple A next season. He plans to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Cozens and Lively will both be protected on the 40-man roster later this fall.
Many eyes will be on Cozens in camp next spring. Not only does the 6-6, 250-pound slugger have huge power from the left side, he stole 20 bases and hit .276.
“I wish I was on that side right now,” said Cozens, looking from the dugout out toward the field. “It’s definitely probably not too far away. I’m excited to hopefully be here next year.
“It’s not my call, but if I play as good as I know I can I think it should happen for sure.”
Cozens will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic and he hopes to see plenty of left-handed pitching. That is a shortcoming in his game. He hit just .197 (25 for 127) against lefties this season. Phillies officials would also like to see Cozens cut down on his strikeouts (186) in an effort to become a more complete player.
“I’d say the area I need to improve on the most is not chasing balls out of the strike zone,” Cozens said. “So I do think I can cut down on the strikeouts.”
Lively, 24, was Cincinnati’s minor-league player of the year in 2014. He was traded to the Phillies for Marlon Byrd after that season. He went 8-7 with a 4.13 ERA at Double A Reading in 2015. That wasn’t good enough to earn a promotion, so he started this season back at Double A and pitched himself to Triple A with a 1.87 ERA in nine starts.
“It was kind of a reality check,” Lively said of returning to Double A. “That kind of kicked it into another gear for me.”
Lively was not a candidate for a September call-up because he reached his innings limit — 170 2/3 innings.
He will get a chance to show he belongs in spring training.