PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies came out of spring training believing the future looks bright at second base.
Scott Kingery hit .286/.400/.619 with two home runs in 25 plate appearances. He also played stellar defense before being assigned to Double-A Reading with high praise from Phillies manager Pete Mackanin.
“It looks like he’s on a fast track to the major leagues,” the skipper said.
While Kingery shined early in camp, Jesmuel Valentin stood out during the final two weeks. He was the last cut when Philadelphia set its Opening Day roster. The son of former big league shortstop Jose Valentin hit .366/.422/.512 with six doubles in 45 plate appearances.
“He impressed me,” Mackanin said. “He has really good instincts. We thought about keeping him as a reserve. But he’s too young and too good of a player. He has to play.”
Valentin, whom the Phillies added to the 40-man roster in November, was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he opened the season with 12 hits in 35 at-bats over his first 11 games.
“I’m pleased with what I did,” Valentin said at the end of big league camp. “I think I opened some eyes. Obviously, I wanted to break with the team, but I have to think about what’s best for my career. I need those every-day at-bats. I’m going to go to Triple-A with the same work ethic and try to get back here as soon as I can.”
The Phillies selected Kingery in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Arizona. He’s widely viewed as the organization’s top second-base prospect.
But Valentin, chosen 51st overall by the Dodgers in 2012 and acquired in a trade for veteran pitcher Roberto Hernandez in August 2014, proved in camp that he should not be overlooked. Both players turn 23 this season.
Regular big league second baseman Cesar Hernandez has shown great improvement with his on-base ability in the past year. He turns 27 this season, so the Phillies have both youth and depth at the keystone.
• Reading lefthander Elniery Garcia, whom the Phillies added to the 40-man roster in November, was suspended 80 games after testing positive for the banned substance Boldenone, a performance enhancer.
• Top prospect J.P. Crawford started slowly at Lehigh Valley. The shortstop went just 4-for-38 (.105) with 13 strikeouts through his first 11 games.
— Jim Salisbury covers the Phillies for CSNPhilly.com