LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Phillies are experiencing a power surge as they enter their off day.
Jorge Alfaro, the Phillies’ top catching prospect, and Scott Kingery, the team’s top prospect among position players, bashed two balls against the Braves here Wednesday.
Alfaro drilled a leadoff home run in the second inning, off Braves starter Julio Teheran, and Kingery crushed a ground-rule double in the seventh that hopped over the 390-foot mark in left-center field. Third baseman Maikel Franco, in the midst of a generally dry spring, had homered Tuesday.
The Phillies lost, 5-3, and fell to 8-12, but they collected 12 hits, one more than their three previous games combined, and they’d won the previous two games.
“This is a good feeling to have going into the off day,” Kingery said. “You’re seeing guys starting to get some big hits.”
The manager likes what he sees.
“Certainly, we’re excited about recent at-bats from Franco and Alfaro and Kingery,” Kapler said.
Kingery and Alfaro singled, too, and Franco singled on Tuesday, all signs that their approaches at the plate are becoming refined. All three singles were purpose-built swings on pitchers’ pitches.
“I saw they were playing the shift, so I tried to hit the hole when they pitched me inside,” said Alfaro, who pushed his average to .280.
“For me, my second at-bat was awesome,” Kingery said. “Recently, I’ve been chasing some sliders in the dirt with two strikes, so I thought, ‘Even if you get jammed, stay back and take your ‘A’ swing. Don’t lunge for it with one hand.’ That was a big improvement for me.”
Kingery leads the Phillies with a .393 average, a .433 on-base percentage, a 1.219 OPS, 11 hits and three home runs in 28 at-bats, as many at-bats as most of the starters have gotten. He will begin the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley to extend the team’s long-term control over him, but he looks ready for the big leagues whenever they give him the call.
Phillies starter Ben Lively, who is in the mix for the fifth starter’s spot, saw his chances diminish when the Phillies signed Jake Arrieta on Monday. He saw his chances diminish further after he gave up three earned runs on four hits in five innings Wednesday. … Kingery is a second baseman but the Phillies will continue to give him experience all over the diamond to enhance his versatility and speed his promotion. He entered the game Wednesday in the bottom of the sixth and played shortstop, where he made a nice, falling catch in short right field as part of a shifted defense. … Lefthanded reliever Fernando Abad, in his second appearance after fighting a hamstring strain, followed Lively and allowed two runs on two hits and a walk. He recorded just one out. He has allowed five runs on four hits and two walks in his two appearances, lasting just one-third of an inning. His ERA is 135.00.