WASHINGTON — Neither Scott Kingery nor Tom Eshelman will reach the majors in 2017. Both could begin 2018 in the minors. But their time is near. The two prospects were honored Thursday by the Phillies as the winners of the Paul Owens Award as their top minor-league performers this season.
The two 23-year-olds reached triple-A Lehigh Valley halfway through the season. Kingery is viewed as the franchise’s future second baseman and led the entire Phillies’ minor-league system in hits. Eshelman’s fastball lives in the high 80s, but his pinpoint command helped him post a 2.40 ERA. He walked 18 batters in 150 innings.
It is reasonable to expect the two prospects will contribute at the major-league level by the middle of 2018, if not sooner.
Kingery safely reached base in 58 of his 63 games at triple A. He hit 26 homers and stole 29 bases in 132 combined games between double A and triple A.
“Scott showed the ability to be an impactful everyday player on both sides of the ball, and that is the most exciting thing,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies’ director of player development. “The power showed up this season, and he wins as many games on the defensive side as the offensive side. That, and his energetic style of play, makes him an exciting young player with a very bright future with the Phillies.”
The Phillies shut down Eshelman before the International League postseason. He was subject to an innings limit. There were 49 pitchers in minor-league baseball who threw 150 innings. Just two walked fewer batters than Eshelman did.
“Tom was a model of consistency for the entire 2017 season,” Jordan said. “His ability to execute pitches is truly special and his ability to command the baseball is going to allow him to be a meaningful rotation piece for our major league club going forward.”
Kingery and Eshelman were both selected in the second round of the 2015 draft, just two picks apart. Eshelman came to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade with Houston.
The Phillies will honor the two players before the Sept. 19 game against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.
Daniel Nava’s back has continued to bother him, to the point where he returned to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon for an examination. He should be fine to continue, but Phillies manager Pete Mackanin may just use him as a pinch-hitter. … Zach Eflin (strained right shoulder) is likely done for the season, although the Phillies have continued his rehab program because they would like to see him pitch again this month. “I don’t know that,” Mackanin said. “We’ll see about that.” … Jake Thompson will start Friday night against Nationals ace Max Scherzer.