Kapler thrilled with Kingery's approach on and off the field

Scott Kingery continues to wow in Phillies camp
Scott Kingery knows he's destined to begin the year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but that's not to say he's taking his chance to impress this spring lightly.

Kingery homered in Wednesday's 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium, marking his second blast in Grapefruit League action. He has four hits in his last six at-bats and has spent some time playing shortstop to increase his versatility.

Kingery looks major league ready now, but with Cesar Hernandez blocking him at second base there's nowhere for him to get consistent playing time. Plus, the Phillies can claim another year of control if he remains in the Minor Leagues until April 13.

"I understand, you have the business side of it, how it works where they get an extra year of control," said Kingery. "I understand all that stuff. Obviously, I'll never think negatively about that. I'll try to think positively and say I'll get my time in the Minors, where I ended the year. I had some struggles a little bit toward the end, so why not go there and fine-tune them for a little while, and see if I can get better at that so I can be even better and bring that with me for when I finally do get called up?"

That mentality, perhaps even more than his work on the field, is why manager Gabe Kapler is so excited about the 23-year-old.

"I think if he was thinking about making the team if he had no pressure on him, if he was in Double-A, if he was in the World Series, you'd see the same thing out of Scott Kingery," Kapler said. "The same exact approach to the game. The talent would still shine. He's just got that unique special makeup that you don't find very often. I do think he's a smart kid and he understands a lot of what's going on around him. Nothing discourages him."

On the Mound
Vince Velasquez pitched well in the first inning, collecting a pair of strikeouts while sitting in the mid-90s on the radar gun, but faltered a bit in the second with his command.

“It’s just a matter of finding that technique, that rhythm, find that loading zone on your back leg," Velasquez said. "Once you feel like you’re planted with that back leg, everything falls into place. Look at [the Dodgers’ Clayton] Kershaw when he lifts his high leg and the next thing you know he goes into a slot — I mean, it’s amazing how consistent he is. It’s just a matter of finding little things like that.”

On the day, Velasquez surrendered three runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one.

Mark Leiter Jr. impressed, notching five strikeouts in two innings. He threw 24 pitches with his splitter posing a fit to the Blue Jays offense.

"That's the sign of a really good pitch," Kapler said. "I don't know how much attention you've paid to vintage, in-his-prime Joel Peralta, but starting to see some similarities there, both in the tenacity and the smarts, the watching hitters and the execution of pitches."

Leiter has allowed just three hits and struck out seven in four scoreless innings this spring. He's still competing for a potential spot in the rotation, but at the very least he's showing that he's capable of taking on a more poignant role in the Phillies bullpen.

"It's out of my control," Leiter said. "So my job is just to try to make the team in any way they see for me to make the team. If they see me as a reliever, then I'll try to be the best reliever I can be. If they see me as a starter, I'll try to be the best starter. If it's going back and forth like last year, I'll use my experience from doing it to continue to build off what went well."

Up Next
The Phillies will host the Yankees at Spectrum Field on Thursday. Nick Pivetta gets the start.

Thursday's Starting Lineup
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Carlos Santana 1B
3. Aaron Altherr CF
4. Rhys Hoskins LF
5. J.P. Crawford SS
6. Jorge Alfaro C
7. Ryan Flaherty 3B
8. Tommy Joseph DH
9. Danny Ortiz RF
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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