Phillies

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."

10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

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10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team's run through the NLCS and World Series.

Baseball is an everyday game of rhythm and momentum and when a team is riding a good wave the last thing it wants is a day off. The Phillies got six of them between their NLCS clincher in Los Angeles and Game 1 of the World Series in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Rays had advanced to the World Series by beating the favored Boston Red Sox in the ALCS and they were a majors-best 57-24 at home.

So heading into Tropicana Field, the Phillies needed a quick start for a lot of reasons, mostly to knock off any rust that had accumulated after a weeklong layoff. They got it from two of the offensive forces of their team. Jayson Werth drew a one-out walk against Scott Kazmir in the first inning and Chase Utley followed with a two-run homer to give the Phillies the quick lead they needed. The Phils manufactured a run in the fourth to go up, 3-0, and pitching and defense made it all stand up for a 3-2 win. (The pitching and defense had to be good because Phillies' hitters were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men.)

The starting pitching matchup featured two exciting, young lefties. Kazmir had been the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft. Cole Hamels was the 17th overall pick. Hamels continued his breakout month with seven innings of two-run ball to improve to 4-0 in that postseason. In 29 innings, he'd struck out 27 and allowed just five runs to that point.

Hamels got some assists in this one. Manager Charlie Manuel liked to use slick-fielding Pedro Feliz at third base behind lefties Hamels and Jamie Moyer. The move paid off when Feliz made a big play to start a clutch 5-4-3 double play to get Hamels out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.

Brad Lidge wrapped it up with his sixth save of the postseason but before that Ryan Madson logged a scoreless eighth inning. To that point in the postseason, he'd pitched 10 innings and given up just one run.

Late in the season, Madson became a demon out of the bullpen for 2008 Phillies. Something clicked for him. His shoulder, which had bothered him a year earlier, got healthy and he became more serious about his craft. He gained confidence and attacked hitters with a high-90s fastball and a knee-buckling changeup. So many things came together for that championship team. Madson's emergence might have been overshadowed at times, but it was huge.

"Ryan's confidence is like a closer's right now," Lidge said after the Game 1 win. "He's learned how to dominate guys."

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Previously in this series

Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

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Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

A former Phillies third baseman has landed his first MLB managing job in Cincinnati, and no, it's not Scott Rolen.

The Reds on Sunday morning named David Bell their next manager and will introduce the former Phillie on Monday afternoon. It's a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth.

Bell was the Giants' vice president of player development in 2018 and previously managed the Reds' minor-league system. He managed Cincinnati's Double A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, from 2009-11 and then its Triple Affiliate, the Louisville Bats, in 2011. Bell, a Cincinnati native, was reportedly up for the  Blue Jays and Rangers manager jobs.

Phillies fans will remember Bell from his four-year, $17 million contract he signed with the team in the winter of 2002. Bell never duplicated the success he had with San Francisco here. He had an abysmal first season here, hitting just .195 in 85 games. He bounced back the next year for a respectable .291/.363/.458 slash line with 18 homers and 77 RBIs, but that was as good as it got.

The Phillies were able to move on from Bell in 2006, trading the third baseman to the Brewers.

But now the 46-year-old has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a chance to manage the team he grew up rooting for. That doesn't happen too often.

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