|Scott Kingery, image- Jay Floyd|
Fresh off a .304 average/26 home run/65 RBI/29 stolen base campaign combined at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, Kingery was honored with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award this week. The nod, given for defensive excellence, is awarded to one player at each position throughout the minors, putting Kingery in select company among thousands of players.
The five-foot-ten 180-pound second baseman asserts that this honor didn't come as a surprise. In fact, it was something that crossed his mind long ago.
"Defense is something I take pride in and I set that goal for myself at the beginning of the year. I told myself I wanted to be so solid that I had the chance to be put in the category or have the opportunity to win that award," Kingery said this week.
The peaks and valleys of hitting are common, so Kingery feels that defense is where he can always remain consistent and knows it's part of the game where he can steadily contribute in a positive way.
"If my hitting's not going well I can still go out on defense and lay out, make a play and maybe save a run for my team, so that's something that I put a lot of focus on," Kingery declared.
On that side of the game this year, the Arizona native posted a .989 fielding percentage, making just six errors in 529 chances. He also enhanced his versatility late in the season by dabbling in some third base and shortstop (four games and two games respectively at each position).
A separate honor that came Kingery's way this month was the Paul Owens Award, an honor bestowed upon the top offensive and top pitching prospect (righty hurler Tom Eshelman was the other 2017 winner) in the Phillies system each season.
The Phils invited the righty batting Kingery to a big league game this week to be honored on the field before the Citizens Bank Park crowd.
The 23-year-old MLB All-Star Futures Game representative cited the Paul Owens Award as an incredible honor and got to bring family members and his girlfriend along for the special occasion.
Part of the pregame ceremony featured all of the individuals that had previously won the award that were present gathering for a photograph. This included a player from that night's opposition, the Dodgers, another second baseman and a Philadelphia sports legend named Chase Utley dropping by.
|Paul Owens Award winners, image- Phillies|
"During spring training, I've had the chance to work with him and talk with him a little bit." Kingery said. "When I went out there (for the photograph) he said, 'I don't know why I'm out here with your guys. I won this award a LONG time ago.'"
Morandini won in 1989. Utley took it in 2002.
Instituted in 1986, the Paul Owens Award is named after the man who spent 48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor.
After getting a look at the Phillies in person, Kingery confessed that seeing many of his peers that have been promoted this year having success at the top level makes him want to get there even more.
"What Nick Williams and Rhys (Hoskins) and J.P. (Crawford) and all those guys have been able to do and how successful they've been, it kind of gives you more confidence and makes you hungrier and you want to get there rejoin your teammates and see what you can do up there together, because I think it's a special group of guys we've got and, you know, in the upper levels we've got a bunch of guys that can make a big impact," Kingery stated.
Kingery, the Phillies' second round draft pick in 2015, will likely be an option to join the big league roster and make that impact he spoke of at some point next season. With Rule 5 draft criteria not requiring a third-year player to be protected on the 40-man roster, the Phils are able to remain conservative with Kingery's arrival to the top level of the sport, despite his accomplishments in the regular season and his impressive spring training (.286 avg, double, two HR in 10 games) with the big league team.
Look for Kingery to continue his great success in 2018, as he plans to spend this off-season utilizing the same workout routine that helped him lock down multiple accolades this year.
Additional quotes and interview excerpts can be found here.