MIAMI — Scott Kingery stood Sunday morning in a clubhouse full of some of baseball’s best young talent. But he very easily could have been in a clubhouse 1,200 miles north in Philadelphia, where the Phillies played another game with a utility player manning second base.
There is a good chance that Kingery, who played in Sunday’s Futures Game at Marlins Park, would already be in the majors if it was not for the constraints of the 40-man roster. He’s batting .312 with 22 homers this season between double A and triple A, but his chances to get to Philly this season are slim. Kingery went 0 for 1 in the USA Team’s 7-6 win over the World Team at the Futures Game.
The Phillies do not have to protect Kingery from December’s Rule 5 draft so they would sacrifice a 40-man roster spot if they did not stash him at triple A for the rest of the season. Keeping Kingery off the 40-man roster allows the Phillies to add a player who needs to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. Kingery understands the predicament.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to call me up,” said Kingery, 23. “But for me I know that my Rule 5 year is not until next year, so I’m not expecting that. I’m just going to be successful at triple A and do everything there.”
The Phillies could keep Kingery in the minors until next May — just like they did in 2015 with Maikel Franco — in order to delay his free agency by a season. But a strong spring training like the one Kingery had this year will force their hand.
“That’s not even a thought for me right now,” Kingery said. “I just got to triple A, so I’m focused on just playing there right now.”
There was a minor buzz earlier this month when Kingery was spotted fielding grounders at third base before a game at triple A. Perhaps the Phillies were working to move the prospect away from second base. Kingery dismissed that notion.
“I’m a second baseman,” Kingery said. “We do it with all the minor-leaguers. We send guys all around the diamond.”
The Phillies said they are trying to give Kingery some flexibility, not switch his position. Kingery said he has fielded grounders at third at every level of the minor leagues. This was nothing new. Kingery is a strong defender and moving him away from second makes little sense. He appears to be the Phillies’ second baseman of the future. It is just a matter of when he arrives.