PHILADELPHIA -- For an organization that bet big on high-ceiling high schoolers for years, the Phillies are reaping rewards from a pair of collegiate second-round picks whose names were called minutes apart in the 2015 MLB Draft.Right-hander Tom Eshelman, selected 46th overall by the Astros out of Cal State Fullerton
PHILADELPHIA -- For an organization that bet big on high-ceiling high schoolers for years, the Phillies are reaping rewards from a pair of collegiate second-round picks whose names were called minutes apart in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Right-hander Tom Eshelman, selected 46th overall by the Astros out of Cal State Fullerton before being traded months later to the Phillies in the Ken Giles deal, and second baseman Scott Kingery, taken two picks later by the Phils, were honored as Paul Owens Award winners on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. The designation is reserved for the top hitter and hurler in the Phillies' farm system each season.
Both completed their second professional seasons in 2017, each beginning the season with Double-A Reading and ending the year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They took great advantage of their respective promotions.
Eshelman continued to stick to his guns, not as a hard thrower, but one with divine command and consistency through his five Double-A games -- posting a 3.10 ERA to an even better 2.23 mark in 18 starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. For the season, Eshelman, who broke NCAA records allowing 0.43 walks per nine innings across his career, struck out 102 and walked 18, including just 13 in 121 innings at Triple-A.
"Definitely [an honor]," Eshelman said of the award. "We have a lot of good pitchers in our organization, and for them to give this to me, it's unbelievable. It makes me want to work harder in the offseason to kind of get better at my craft."
Eshelman and Rhys Hoskins, last year's Paul Owens Award winner, attended California state schools. Eshelman, who was a teammate of Hoskins in the Minors, is often asked about the Phillies phenom.
"Rhys is kind of a hometown hero in my town, I've been getting a lot of text messages and direct messages on Instagram, like, 'Hey did you play with this guy?'" Eshelman said. "He's done his fair share this season to become the subject of such questions down the road."
Hoskins didn't linger long in the Minors. He was selected in the 2014 Draft and arrived in the Majors this season.
Kingery -- ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Phillies' No. 3 prospect -- is on pace to make the Phillies, for good, even quicker than Hoskins. Service time dictates that a callup in late May of 2018 would afford the Phils an extra year of control over Kingery, but he's unlikely to stay in the Minors longer than that.
"As the season went on, I kind of learned about that kind of stuff," Kingery said.
Kingery's short-term goals don't include starting next season with the Phillies, but to put on some muscle in preparation for the expected weight loss that occurs throughout a long season.
A phenomenal Spring Training performance, during which Kingery posted a 1.019 OPS in 21 games, kindled a power surge for the 5-foot-10, 180-pound middle infielder at Double-A Reading where he clobbered 18 homers in 69 games before relocating to Lehigh Valley. A sparkling adjustment to his first taste of Triple-A ball netted Kingery a .294/.337/.449 slash line. Across both levels, he ranked third in OPS in the Phillies' organization and fourth in slugging percentage.
Kingery and Eshelman join a number of recent Paul Owens Award winners in Philadelphia, including Hoskins (2016), Ben Lively ('16), Ricardo Pinto ('15), Andrew Knapp ('15), J.P. Crawford ('14), Luis Garcia ('14), Maikel Franco ('13) and Freddy Galvis ('11). Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley (2002) and Phillies first-base coach Mickey Morandini (1989) are also former recipients.
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.