Kingery, Williams to continue development; Kendrick in at 2B, Nava in OF
By Ben Harris
PHILADELPHIA -- Although two former everyday position players have lost out on playing time, Phillies fans clamoring for prospects to be shuttled to the big leagues won't get their wish.
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez is out for the next six weeks as he rehabs an oblique injury and right fielder Michael Saunders entered Wednesday with the lowest on-base percentage among qualified hitters in the National League. But general manager Matt Klentak won't rush the development of prospects in order to fill short-term needs at the Major League level.
Many have called for Double-A second baseman Scott Kingery, who dazzled in big league Spring Training, to replace Hernandez. That's not happening now. However, a slightly lesser promotion is in the offing.
"I'd suspect in the pretty near future, he'd move to Triple-A," said Klentak of the Phils' No. 11 prospect per MLBPipeline.com. "It's not time to bring him to the Major Leagues right now. And not really related to Cesar's injury, it's not the right thing for Scott Kingery's development."
Klentak has stressed the dichotomy and balance between taking steps to be good now, taking steps to be good later and figuring out how one doesn't get in the way of the other.
Kingery was hitting .300 with a .986 OPS that ranks second in the Eastern League. His 18 homers were the most in the league by three and he was tied for the highest total across all levels of the Minors. But he's also just 23 (more than a year younger than the average Eastern League player), barely two seasons removed from being drafted and hasn't completed a full Double-A season.
His status as a non-40-man rostered player "is not the driving factor" in this decision, according to Klentak.
For Saunders' replacement, Nick Williams -- the club's No. 4 prospect -- is a name that's popped up given the outfield's struggles and his great season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"We'd like when players that come up here, they have a decent chance of staying and that's the thing," Klentak said. "There's some finishing touches for Nick that he's working on and he knows what he's working on. I think Nick has been a success story for the last month to six weeks."
So where do the Phillies turn in the outfield and who turns the double play for them?
They're comfortable with Howie Kendrick filling in at second base in Hernandez's absence. It is, after all, where Kendrick made a career and the position he's played in 85 percent of his nearly 1,300 career starts.
As for the outfield where Kendrick's spot is vacated, that will often be filled by Daniel Nava.
"Look at that stat sheet -- Daniel Nava has been one of our more productive outfielders this year," Klentak said.
"I don't know that that's a bad thing right now. We like Daniel Nava, he's having a good year, he's had a couple of good games in a row. That, for now, is the direction we're likely going to head."
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.