After taking a high school hitter in the first round, the Phillies took Kevin Newman’s (1st round #19) double play partner out of the University of Arizona. Some scouts actually prefer Kingery to Newman and think that he may be able to play shortstop in the majors. It is likely he will play second base in the Phillies system given their strength at short. Kingery has below average power, but is a plus hitter with a short line drive stroke and lead the PAC-12 in batting average at .392. He has plus plus speed, but hasn’t mastered all the nuances of base running. He has played some center field before, which is a back up plan if he can’t stick at second. Kingery could move fairly quickly through the system. He is also a bit of a value at this point in the draft, but should sign for slot
Baseball America before the draft (#40 Overall):
Converting from center field to second base for his junior year at Arizona, Kingery turned out to be one of the bigger surprises of the 2015 college season. The Phoenix-area product had led the Pacific-12 Conference in batting all year and ranked among the national top 10 with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Kingery is a top-of-the-order line drive hitter with a short stroke and plus-plus speed. Scouts get times faster than 4.1 seconds on him to first base from the right side, yet Kingery lacks true basestealing instincts. He has a modest 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame but with solid hand strength and a compact short stroke at the plate. After drawing 33 walks as a sophomore, he had just nine as a junior, but his greater aggression had paid off in more power, both to the gaps and at times with some loft in his swing. He’s a solid defender at second base and has an average arm for some, though it’s likely not enough for a consistent role on the left side of the infield. He could wind up back in the outfield as well if he hits enough to be a regular. Undrafted out of high school, Kingery is a grinder who drew multiple comparisons to big league veteran and fellow Arizona native Ian Kinsler, albeit with less power.
MLB.com predraft (#42 Overall):
While his double play partner Kevin Newman was getting much of the early buzz coming out of the University of Arizona, Kingery was making his own noise as the spring progressed. The infielder was letting his bat do most of the talking, sitting atop the NCAA batting average leaderboard for much of the spring. Kingery uses a quick, short stroke to spray line drives to all fields. He has an outstanding approach at the plate and is an on-base machine. Power isn’t a part of his game, which is fine for a hitter who profiles as a top-of-the-order catalyst. Kingery uses his plus speed to take extra bases and he should be a base-stealing threat in the future. A center fielder in the past, Kingery has the skills to play second base as well as the athleticism to return to the outfield if need be. Newman might still go ahead of Kingery on Draft day, but in a year where performing college hitters were sparse, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear Kingery’s name come off the board not long after his more famous teammate.
ESPN Predraft (#25 Overall):
Electric quickness in his hands, plus speed and potential plus defense up the middle have Kingery on the early-round radar.
Everything about him suggests he’s going to hit in pro ball. Bat speed, bat path, bat control, hand-eye coordination and a unique ability to adjust the way he uses his lower half while the pitch is in flight ? it’s all very righteous. There’s enough arm and athleticism here that a team could justifiably give him a look on the left side of the infield, just in case he can play there. I’m fine with letting him trot out to second base and rake.
He’s small, and that’s going to raise concerns about how much power he’ll have when hitting with wood and how his body is going to stand up to the professional grind, but there’s far too much talent here for Kingery’s diminutive stature to keep him on the board for very long.
Baseball Prospectus Reaction:
I like this pick a lot more than the Phillies first-round pick, though that’s not saying a whole lot. Kingery—like Dewees—has a chance to have a plus hit tool, and though he lacks power like his double-play partner Kevin Newman, he does have plus speed, and he’s a solid defender at second base who may be able to play center field if the Phillies chose that path.