Scott Kingery is off to a fast start.
The rookie, who has drawn comparison to the likes of Phillies great Chase Utley and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, is starting to come into his own on the next level and provide the team with some offensive firepower in the lineup.
On Monday, Kingery notched his first career home run in a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. On Tuesday, he followed it up by blasting his first career grand slam in a 6-1 win over the Reds.
He is the quickest Phillies rookie since Utley to hit a grand slam that early in his career, playing in just his ninth game. Utley’s was his first career hit in just his second game.
“For me, I was looking up in the zone and just hoped for something that I could put a good swing on,” Kingery said of the grand slam. “You can learn something from everyone’s at bat … I try to watch every at bat I can and pick something up from each at bat.”
Kingery is batting .258 with two home runs and six RBI. He’s not an everyday starter yet, but he’s earning a ton of respect among his coaches and peers.
And it's even more impressive after Kingery bucked MLB trends and signed a six-year, $24 million contract before he had ever even appeared on a 25-man roster. He's risen to the occasion under a pretty large microscope.
“It’s unbelievable,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Kingery’s grand slam. “Biggest moment, big stage, looking for a pitch to drive down in the zone. He’s really good at that and got on a slider and there we go. Pretty special.”
Kingery started in place of the slumping rookie shortstop J.P. Crawford on Tuesday. He’s also started this season at second base in place of Cesar Hernandez, third base in place of Maikel Franco and right field in place of Nick Williams.
“Natural [for a position] comes from having thousands of reps, all of sudden it begins to look natural. He doesn’t have as many reps at short or at third or in right or in center as he does at second base. He’s going to look the most natural at second. That doesn’t mean with more reps at short or the other position, he doesn’t start to look more natural there too. Right now, he’s just a real good athlete no matter where he goes.”
Crawford may be on the largest hot seat at the moment. He’s hit just 1-for-23 (.077) in 28 plate appearances this season.
When Kingery is playing as well as he has been, he’ll be a tough player to leave out of the lineup for long.