PHOENIX — Everything that happens in this Phillies season is geared toward the future.
With that, the team made some significant news Sunday night when it promoted prospect Scott Kingery, a hard-hitting, 23-year-old second baseman, to Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Kingery had torn up the Double A Eastern League, hitting .313 with 18 homers, 44 RBIs and a .987 OPS in 69 games at Reading.
"This was our target date," director of player development Joe Jordan said Sunday night. "We had been talking about it for quite some time. There really wasn't any magic to it. We had wanted to get him 425 to 450 at-bats at the Double A level and we've done that. It's time for a new challenge."
Kingery played in 39 games at Double A last season and returned there to open this season. He ended up hitting .290 in 434 at-bats at that level.
"Offense, defense, baserunning — it's the whole package," Jordan said. "He impacts the game in a lot of ways every night."
Kingery will become the everyday second baseman at Triple A, joining an infield that already includes prospects J.P Crawford at shortstop and Rhys Hoskins at first base. Depending on what the Phillies do with Cesar Hernandez over the winter — he was available for a trade but at a very steep price last winter, sources say — Kingery could be the Phillies' opening day second baseman in 2018. That's incumbent on his continuing to improve, of course.
Kingery was a former walk-on at the University of Arizona (see story). He blossomed into a Pac-12 batting champion and conference player of the year before being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft.
Kingery was a spring-training standout, leading manager Pete Mackanin to say, "He might be on a fast track to the big leagues."
But barring an unforeseen development, it's highly unlikely that Kingery will get to the majors this season. He does not have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after the 2018 season, and with a number of prospects requiring protection from the Rule 5 draft this winter the Phils will probably hold off on adding Kingery to the roster until they are sure he's ready to come to the majors and stay.