The super-sub portion of Scott Kingery's career is coming into focus

The super-sub portion of Scott Kingery's career is coming into focus

DENVER — Scott Kingery made his third straight start at shortstop for the Phillies on Friday night. He has been filling in for Jean Segura, who has been nursing a minor hamstring injury.

“My inclination, though I’m not swearing by it, is to start Scott again [Saturday night] at shortstop,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re potentially targeting Sunday as a day to get Jean back in the lineup.”

Once Segura is ready, he will get most of the reps at shortstop. The Phillies didn’t trade for him so he could split time.

So what happens with Kingery, who has swung the bat very well in limited time this season?

Kapler indicated that Kingery would fill the super-utility role that the organization envisioned when it signed him to a six-year, $24 million contract in the spring of 2018.

“I think there’s more of a need to get him in the lineup because of how well he’s performing,” Kapler said. “It’s less of a ‘let’s get him reps to keep him fresh thing,’ and more of a, ‘this helps us win thing.’

“His reps could come at shortstop here and there. They could come in the outfield here and there. He certainly has emerged as an option at second and third base.”

Kingery played some outfield at the University of Arizona and he’s played some in spring training. He played briefly in all three outfield spots for the Phils last season and picked up a few innings in left field earlier this season.

Kapler has talked a lot in recent days about using Kingery in center field at times. With Odubel Herrera on the disabled list with a sore hamstring for at least another nine days, it would not be surprising to see Kingery get a start at the position sometime next week. Roman Quinn seemingly will get most of the playing time in center while Herrera is out, but Kapler has indicated that Quinn will not get all the time there.

During batting practice on Thursday, Kapler reminded Kingery to keep up on his pre-game work in center field. That would seem to support the idea that Kingery will get a look there soon.

Clearly the Phillies want to see Kingery play center field because they believe his versatility is valuable and it presents a way to get his bat in the lineup while giving other players rest. (It also doesn’t hurt to have both him and Quinn putting some heat on Herrera.) But it’s also possible that the Phils want to gauge Kingery’s ability to play center field because they will have to make a roster move when Herrera is ready to return. One possibility is trading Aaron Altherr. If he goes, the Phillies would lose some center field depth.

Kingery made significant strides defensively at shortstop last season. Kapler believes he has the same potential for growth in center field.

“I think I can comfortably say that he will go out in center field and immediately play average to above average center field simply because of his athleticism and speed,” Kapler said.

Kingery entered Friday night hitting .414 (12 for 29) with four doubles, two homers and a 1.227 OPS. As a rookie last year, Kingery hit just .226 with a .605 OPS. He has credited his improvement to gaining experience, taking some of the lift out of his swing — in his words, “flattening” it — and being more aggressive early in the count.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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