Lakewood BlueClaws second baseman Scott Kingery began his pro career at L.P. Frans Stadium on Thursday. The second-round pick (48th overall) of the Phillies early in June out of the University of Arizona singled in his first at-bat.
“Kind of a blooper into left,” said Kingery of his first live-game experience. “It doesn’t matter how it happens, as long as I got that first hit.”
He tripled later in the game and scored what was then a go-ahead run before the Hickory Crawdads rallied from two down to gain a walk-off win.
The success in Kingery’s pro debut is a taste of what many in the Phillies organization hope to see in the future.
Phillies’ scouting director Johnny Almaraz labeled Kingery as someone could be “a quick mover” in comments made to the media after the draft selection. In mlb.com’s article on Kingery, the opening paragraph mentioned him as someone who could succeed Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.
All of this is high praise for someone who was a walk-on at Arizona after receiving his only scholarship offer from Central Arizona College. With an eye to the future and the hope to improve his craft as a baseball player, Kingery made the choice to go to Arizona with the full backing of his family.
“My dad told me, ‘if you’re going to be a good player, you’ve got to take a chance at a D-1. So, if you want to go to Arizona and walk on, we’ll support your decision.’”
Kingery went on to play three seasons with the Wildcats under longtime head coach Andy Lopez. While there, Kingery won back-to-back batting titles in the Pac-12. His athleticism also played out in the field when he moved to second base for his junior season after playing in the outfield. Despite his inexperience at the position to start the season, he learned quickly and was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.
“It was my first year at second base, so coming in there, I didn’t know what to expect,” Kingery said of the move. “I figured some stuff out in the fall. Coming out with that defensive All-Pac 12 team, that was a great feeling knowing that I can go into my first season and make some good plays on defense and end up being on the defensive team.”
But it is the bat that earned him the high draft slot. Kingery batted .392 in 54 games with a .984 OPS. Despite winning the Pac-12 batting title the year before, he didn’t feel he started getting noticed until earlier this season.
“My sophomore year I had a good year, but at the beginning of this year is when things started to happen,” Kingery said. “I began to come into contact with some scouts. Once the season started, it took off from there.”
While all of the talk of being a quick mover and a successor to Utley swirl around him, for now Kingery is simply hoping to learn the routine of being a pro.
“At this point, I’m just trying to be the best I can be right here and not thinking too far ahead. I’m just looking to compete here. Hopefully I can move fast, but right now, I’m just focused on this team.”