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BOX SCORE

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Scott Kingery isn't the only young second base prospect to open eyes in the early stage of the Grapefruit League season.

Jesmuel Valentin has put together a couple of pretty good days lately.

He had a two-run double to go along with a walk and a run scored as the Phillies played to an 8-8 tie with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Valentin also had a double in Wednesday's game.

A former supplemental first-round pick of the Dodgers (51st overall) in 2012, Valentin joined the Phillies in the August 2014 trade that sent pitcher Roberto Hernandez to Los Angeles.

Valentin hit .269 with nine homers and 52 RBIs at Double A and Triple A last season and earned a spot of the 40-man roster in November. He projects to open the season as the starting second baseman at Triple A while Kingery projects to open at Double A.

Kingery has been a standout early in camp. He has won high praise from manager Pete Mackanin (see story) and is widely considered the Phillies' best second-base prospect.

But Valentin has his fans. And he's actually several weeks younger than Kingery. Kingery turns 23 in April, Valentin in May.

Valentin hails from Puerto Rico. He is the son of former big-league infielder Jose Valentin. The younger Valentin was slowed early in camp by a shoulder injury sustained in winter ball, but he's healthy now and it has shown at the plate the last two days.

 

Valentin has played mostly second base as a pro, but he was drafted as a shortstop. He's gotten time at that position the last two days as Mackanin and the Phillies staff try to determine whether he could hold down a utility infielder's job on the bench. A utility infielder must be able to fill in at shortstop in a pinch.

"I like what I've seen of Valentin," Mackanin said. "He showed really good base running instincts and that's the way he was advertised. I like his energy. We're going to put him at shortstop a little bit to see what he can do over there. He looks OK over there. It looks to me like he's got enough arm, but I'd have to see him longer.

"We have to make sure we're covered if something happened to Freddy (Galvis), or if (J.P.) Crawford isn't ready at a certain time, we have to have coverage. He's on the roster. We want to see if he can play more than second base."

Said Valentin: "I'm ready to go at any position, anywhere the team needs me."

On Nola
Aaron Nola had a solid spring debut. He pitched two scoreless innings and hit 94 mph on the radar gun. Most importantly, he got out of it healthy (see story).

"The best thing about that game was Aaron Nola," Mackanin said. "He looked really good. He had some good velocity, made some good pitches, went unscathed. I liked that."

Nola missed the last two months of 2016 with an elbow injury, so there's going to be some holding of breath for a while.

"I'd feel totally comfortable if we get into June and there aren't any issues," Mackanin said. "To be honest with you, I don't foresee any, but you never know. I don't know if the workload will catch up to him or not, and if it doesn't, then we have a heck of a good pitcher there. But it's always going to be an issue. I'm always going to wonder if he comes in one day and says it's bothering him. But right now, I'm staying positive and hoping he has no issues."

Brock and roll
Brock Stassi, the 27-year-old career minor-leaguer bidding to win a spot as a backup first baseman/outfielder, started in left field and had three hits, raising his spring batting average to .636 (7 for 11). He also drove in a run.

Up next
The Phillies host the Minnesota Twins on Friday afternoon. Jeremy Hellickson will start against Trevor May, the former Phillies prospect who was traded to the Twins for Ben Revere.