Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 11:19 AM
Last spring, Scott Kingery was among the first cuts from Phillies camp. He had 21 at-bats in 10 Grapefruit League games, a meaningless sample that nonetheless generated a great deal of excitement within the organization. He had done more than pass the eye test. Then, he dominated at double-A Reading and earned a midseason promotion to triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is one of the club’s best prospects.
But his stay in big-league camp this spring could again be limited. Kingery, 23, was among eight players the Phillies invited to camp Wednesday. He will begin the season in Allentown, barring something unforeseen. He is a second baseman, blocked by Cesar Hernandez, who posted a .373 on-base percentage in 2017 and will earn $5.1 million in 2018.
That makes the spring cameo a chance for Kingery to impress a new coaching staff. The tougher decisions are for later.
Joining Kingery as internal invitees to camp are righthanders Enyel De Los Santos, Tom Eshelman and JD Hammer; lefties Cole Irvin and Brandon Leibrandt; catcher Edgar Cabral; and outfielder Andrew Pullin. Only Kingery and Pullin were in major-league camp last spring.
All of those players are long shots to win a big-league job this spring; Eshelman and Pullin could push their way into the discussion because of muddled situations in the starting rotation and on the bench.
The Phillies have a camp roster of 58 players. That includes all the players on the 40-man roster and 10 other non-roster invitees in addition to the ones announced Wednesday.
De Los Santos and Hammer are new to the organization; De Los Santos came from San Diego in the Freddy Galvis trade, and Hammer from Colorado for Pat Neshek.
Leibrandt, son of former major-league pitcher Charlie, went unselected in last month’s Rule 5 draft. He had a 3.62 ERA in 136 2/3 innings last season for Reading and Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies, for now, will have 17 starting pitchers in camp. Some could become relievers this spring or when the season begins. Most notable among those not invited: Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall pick who was removed from the 40-man roster this winter. He is expected to transition to a bullpen role.
Read full story: Scott Kingery among eight prospects invited to Phillies camp