Dan's Dugout: Phils Find New Star But Fail Against Harvey • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Phils Find New Star But Fail Against Harvey

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FLUSHING, NY – With the possible exception of his mother, nobody had ever heard of Scott Kingery before the Phillies brought him to the big leagues this season.

And they didn’t just put him on their 25-man roster for the first time; they signed him to a six-year, seven-figure contract first.

The Phils have a phenom in rookie infielder Scott Kingery

Obviously, they think a lot of the versatile rookie.

The only man in professional baseball to top 25 homers and 25 stolen bases last season, he won the 2017 Paul Owens Award as the best position player in the Philadelphia farm system.

Although he earned a Minor League Baseball Gold Glove award for his play at second base, he’s spent his first few days in the majors at shortstop, third base, and left field.

Against the Mets at CitiField Tuesday night, he carried a .444 batting average into the game but went hitless against Matt Harvey, who pitched five innings of one-hit ball, and four relievers. The Mets won, 2-0, in a game played in cold, damp conditions from the start. Game-time temperature was given as 40 degrees but a 12 mph wind made it feel like freezing on the field. Kingery went 0-for-4 as his teammates collected just three hits.

A hot hitter suddenly cooled by the combination of Harvey and Mother Nature, Kingery was listed sixth in Gabe Kapler’s batting order but that could change as the weather warms.

Scott Kingery could be the second coming of Chase Utley for the Phils

His 10 extra-base hits in spring training tied for a team high and he also turned heads with a .411 average (23-for-56) that included five home runs in 22 games. He led the Grapefruit League with 44 total bases and ranked second in hits.

On a team so offense-deprived that it lavished millions on fading veteran Carlos Santana, his arrival is welcome.

But he won’t play second much unless incumbent Cesar Hernandez, the team’s leadoff man, is traded for pitching help. Never mind that Baseball America rated him the best defensive second baseman in the minors last year.

Kingery, who collected his first big-league hit against Atlanta’s Mike Foltyniewicz, struck out in his first at-bat against Matt Harvey at fog-shrouded CitiField Tuesday night. But the 23-year-old infielder has already shown flashes of potential, with two or more hits in both of his first two games (the first time any Philly player did that since 2008).

He’s not about to make Philly fans forget Mike Schmidt — not yet anyway — but the fact that he was given No. 4 indicates the team is virtually certain he’ll realize his potential this season.

Scott Kingery started his career with consecutive multi-hit games

A second-round draft choice out of the University of Arizona, Kingery is one of 10 Phillies on the team’s Opening Day roster for the first time. For the fourth straight year, 14 men on the current roster did not start last year with the Phils.

Philadelphia sees Kingery as the second coming of Chase Utley, a slugging second baseman who spent most of his career with the club. The power, speed, and defense are all there.

Splitting last year between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Kingery hit .304 with 26 home runs, 29 doubles, eight triples, and 29 stolen bases. If he comes anywhere near those figures again, he’ll figure prominently in the 2018 voting for National League Rookie of the Year.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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