2B prospect Jesmuel Valentin likely out for year; Scott Kingery to bide time for now in AA

2B prospect Jesmuel Valentin likely out for year; Scott Kingery to bide time for now in AA

The Phillies' depth at second base has taken a hit.

Jesmuel Valentin, the starter at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is headed for surgery after dislocating his left shoulder. General manager Matt Klentak indicated that it was likely Valentin would miss the remainder of the season.

Valentin, 23, made a good showing in big-league spring training camp and, in fact, was the last position player cut from the 25-man roster. He had been off to a slow start at Lehigh Valley, hitting just .229 with a .573 OPS in his first 29 games.

With Valentin out, the Phillies could promote top second base prospect Scott Kingery from Double A to Triple A. While that is likely to happen at some point, nothing is imminent, Klentak said. The IronPigs will use veteran Pedro Florimon at second for the time being.

Kingery, 23, has been on a tear at Reading. He entered Monday leading the Eastern League in homers (13), extra-base hits (25) and slugging (.651). Overall, he was hitting .289 with a 1.018 OPS.

"Not imminent," Klentak said of a possible promotion for Kingery. "Very possible down the road. We've got more than enough infield coverage (at Triple A) to be fine and Kingery is good where he is."

Kingery, a 2015 draft pick, played just 37 games at the Double A level last season. He entered Monday having played in 37 games there this season.

Kingery on Monday was named the Eastern League player of the week for May 15-21. He went 9 for 30 with five homers, six RBIs, nine runs scored and an .833 OPS.

Phillies GM Klentak supports McClure, commitment to developing Velasquez as starter

Phillies GM Klentak supports McClure, commitment to developing Velasquez as starter

Phillies pitchers entered the start of a seven-game homestand on Monday night with the third-worst ERA in baseball, 4.78. Starting pitchers went more than six innings just 10 times in the first 41 games and the bullpen had given up 27 homers (second most in the majors) and blown nine saves (third most in the majors) over that span.

In other words, lack of effective pitching was a big reason the Phils entered Monday having lost 17 of their previous 21 games and sitting at 15-26 overall.

The Phillies' struggles on the mound have led to natural questions about pitching coach Bob McClure's performance and job status.

General manager Matt Klentak answered those questions with a strong endorsement of McClure before Monday night's game.

"Not on Bob, as far as I'm concerned," Klentak said when asked where the blame lay. "There can be organizational blame if we want to look at it that way. It's never about one person.

"One of the things that is so good about Bob, he is outstanding at working with young players and understanding the long game with young players — how we make sure we get enough rest and how we take care of them. He's been through this before. He was a key part in the development of a lot of the (Kansas City) Royals pitchers that led to the successes they've had over the last few years. So I'm absolutely not pointing any fingers at Bob.

"The topic of Bob's job security has not come up because it's not an issue."

Vince Velasquez might be the most talented of McClure's pupils, but he has struggled to turn his outstanding potential into success. In his second season in the Phillies' rotation, the hard-throwing righty has recorded a 5.98 ERA in eight starts and gotten through the sixth inning just three times (see story). His starts have frequently crashed as his pitch counts have risen and he has had to go through a lineup multiple times.

Velasquez's problems have led to almost nonstop speculation that he could end up at the back of a bullpen someday, but that's not happening any time soon, according to Klentak.

"For right now, we're committed to finding out what he can do in the rotation," Klentak said. "We've seen it. We've seen it in the early parts of last year and we've seen it in parts of this year where he has that 'ah-ha' moment where this guy is in the role that he's meant to be in. It hasn't been a clear path exactly. He's had some bumps along the way. But most pitchers do, especially when they get to the big leagues for as young as he was when he got here. We are very much committed to him being a starter. If over the course of time, we're forced to make an adjustment, then we will. We're not going to be rigid in our decision-making. But right now, we're not there."

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to 8th in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to 8th in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP

Rockies
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. D.J. LeMehiau 2B
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez RF
5. Mark  Reynolds 1B
6. Gerardo Parra LF
7. Alexi Amarista SS
8. Tony Wolters C
9. Jeff Hoffman SP