CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Before Sunday, there was no need to worry about the Major League service time for Phillies prospect Scott Kingery. It was almost inevitable that Philadelphia's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, would start the regular season in the Minor Leagues so the team could maintain another
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Before Sunday, there was no need to worry about the Major League service time for Phillies prospect Scott Kingery. It was almost inevitable that Philadelphia's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, would start the regular season in the Minor Leagues so the team could maintain another year of control.
All that was rendered moot on Sunday, when the Phillies inked Kingery to a six-year, $24 million extension, with club options for 2024-26. The deal essentially buys out Kingery's arbitration-eligible years and ensures a spot on the Major League roster for Opening Day, the club officially announced during a press conference at Spectrum Field on Monday morning. Kingery punctuated the announcement by slugging a solo home run in the third inning of the Phillies' 6-3 win over the Pirates at LECOM Park.
"It's just unbelievable to be in a moment like this," said Kingery, who spoke in front of a crowd that included many of his teammates, Minor League coaches, parents Tom and Patty and twin brother Sam. "With the guys we've got in this clubhouse, it's a really exciting time. For me, there is a lot of excitement to get up to Philly and get this thing started."
Kingery, who got the start at third base and batted third in Monday's win, launched a towering fly ball in the third inning off Pittsburgh starter Trevor Williams that hit the top of the wall in left field, just out of reach of left fielder Corey Dickerson. Kingery showed off some of his other assets after legging out an infield single in the top of the fourth, and he laced a line-drive double in the seventh to raise his batting average to .418.
MLB Pipeline ranked Kingery, a second-round pick out of the University of Arizona in the 2015 Draft, as the 35th overall prospect in all of baseball after he hit .304 with 26 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 132 games between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
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"This, from an organizational perspective, is the best success story we could have," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "A guy that was drafted by the Phillies, developed through our system and achieves a moment like this through hard work, grit and determination. It is exactly what you want as an organization."
Klentak spoke highly of the 23-year-old and his character, which helped make the decision to offer a near-unprecedented contract that came together quickly over roughly the last week. Kingery's Opening Day status and the start of the his Major League service time clock were never a factor in the negotiations.
"He really forced our hand with the way he played," Klentak said.
With Cesar Hernandez slated to start the year at second, Kingery's natural position, and Maikel Franco entrenched at third, Kingery will likely fill a super-utility role with the team. Manager Gabe Kapler said that he plans to get Kingery steady playing time at both infield spots and also the occasional start in the outfield. The most important thing is that Kingery's bat will be in the lineup to contribute offensively. Heading into Monday's game, Kingery was tied for the Grapefruit League in hits (20) and for third in total bases (37).
"I'm willing to play anywhere," Kingery said. "Obviously my main position is second base right now, but I just want to get out there with the team right now. If that's the outfield, or anywhere in the infield, I'll work on that."
"Let's be frank here. This works because Scott has the ability and not just the willingness and overall athleticism to move around the diamond," Kapler said. "This requires his teammates to also be flexible and recognize that when Scott's on the field for us at various positions -- and he will play various positions -- that that makes us a better club and gives us an opportunity from the jump."
Kingery is only the second player in history, behind Houston's Jon Singleton, to ever sign an extension of this length without having made his MLB debut. It was the kind of "bold thinking" that Klentak and Kapler are trying to instill in a franchise that lost 96 games last season.
"Phillies fans are going to love this guy. I think they already do, and he hasn't even played a day in the big leagues," Klentak said. "His style of play, his talent, his whole hustle, the way he goes about his business every day is going to be a perfect fit for the city of Philadelphia, our fans and our team."
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.