Twins 4, Phillies 3: It's that Scott Kingery kid again

Twins 4, Phillies 3: It's that Scott Kingery kid again

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If Scott Kingery keeps this up, he's not just going to make the Phillies' opening day roster. He's going to win a spot on the team's Wall of Fame.

The 22-year-old second baseman continued his torrid spring training with two more hits, including a home run, and another eye-popping defensive play in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Spectrum Field on Friday.

"I can't say enough about Kingery," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's a good-looking player, boy. And, I'll tell you what, I really like what I see.

"To be as composed as he is in his first big-league camp after just getting a taste of Double A. He really has made a great impression."

Let's answer the obvious question right here: Kingery is not making the big-league club. He spent just six weeks at Double A Reading last season and will most likely open right back there in April with Jesmuel Valentin, another 22-year-old second base prospect, opening at Triple A. Kingery himself has stated that he needs more time at Double A (see story).

Kingery entered Friday's game in the sixth inning and quickly laid out to his right and made a diving play and snap throw to first for an out. His home run came in the seventh. It was a two-run shot to left on a full-count pitch.

"Very good at-bat," Mackanin said. "He didn't want to get beat on something soft and he fought off some fastballs. He protected against something soft, he got a soft pitch and, against the wind, hit a bomb."

The middle infield boys
The Phillies' second base job belongs to Cesar Hernandez. He had a nice game Friday, reaching base three times.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis, who is working on improving his selectivity and on-base percentage, has impressed Mackanin early in the Grapefruit League season. Galvis is seeing pitches and trying to use the middle of the field more.

"I'm real happy with his at-bats," Mackanin said. "He looks like he's really under control and if he continues to have an approach like that he's going to have a good year."

No luck
Logan Moore doesn't get a lot of notice, but Phillies instructors will tell you that he's a first-rate defensive catcher. He has played at Double A and Triple A the last two seasons, basically wherever the organization needs him, and could end up as a backup in the majors someday.

Moore, who hits left-handed, had two good at-bats in Friday's game. He lined out hard to shortstop with two men on base to end the seventh, then ended the game with a bullet comebacker to the mound with the bases loaded. Both times an excellent defensive play took away a hit from him.

"Bad luck for Logan Moore," Mackanin said. "The shortstop robbed him. He really swung it well."

Moore's dad, Brad, pitched in eight games for the Phillies, five in 1998 and three in 1990.

Extra bases
Projected opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson pitched three innings of one-run ball. He allowed four hits, including a homer, walked a batter and struck out four.

Jerad Eickhoff will be the starting pitcher Saturday when the Phillies host the Atlanta Braves.

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies showed a little power in their 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Tommy Joseph provided some of it.

Vince Velasquez provided a lot of it.

Joseph crushed a two-run home run to left field and also lined a double off the center-field wall on his way to a four-hit game. The double came off his bat at 109 miles per hour. The homer was his third of the spring.

Meanwhile, Velasquez showed off his big fastball in striking out seven Blue Jays over five innings of work. Vinny Velo's final pitch of the night was a 97-mph dart past a swinging Jose Bautista.

"That pitch felt really good coming out of my hand," Velasquez said. "Sometimes my fastball slips a little bit and I yank it, but this one I got right behind and threw it right through the catcher."

Velasquez actually struck out the side in that fifth inning against three pretty good hitters in Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Bautista.

"That last inning, he really let it go," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Pitch economy remains an area that Velasquez needs to improve on. He threw 87 pitches. But he was pleased with the way he attacked hitters in that final inning of work.

"I didn't attack in one inning," he said. "But in that last inning, I stopped fiddling around and trusted my stuff. I need to do that the whole time."

Velasquez gave up just one run, a homer to Martin. He allowed five hits and walked two.

Velasquez had a busy night. He drove home a run with a ground out against Aaron Sanchez. He also walked against Sanchez and scored a run on a dash home from third base after Freddy Galvis got hung up between first and second. Galvis waved Velasquez home. After crossing home plate, Velasquez, rather humorously, almost ran into the netted backstop.

"I just had momentum. I got excited," he said. "As soon as I saw Tulo (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) make eye contact with Freddy, I booked it. He's going to think, 'Pitchers can't run,' so I showed off my athleticism."

After the outing, Velasquez pronounced himself ready for the regular season.

"I'm good to go," he said.

He made five Grapefruit League starts and gave up eight runs in 19 2/3 innings. He walked nine and struck out 25.

"It's been a strong, healthy, successful spring training," he said.

Velasquez will likely start the home opener on April 7. He will need to get some work in this weekend. The Phillies leave Florida on Friday. He could stay behind for a day and pitch at the minor-league complex if needed.

Offense clicks
The Phillies had 12 hits. They had 15 in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Up next
The Phillies play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday night. That game will be in Clearwater. Aaron Nola will start against Marco Estrada.

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The pathway for Andrew Knapp to make the Phillies' opening day roster as the backup catcher was cleared way back in November when he was added to the 40-man roster.

The job all but became Knapp's on Monday when the team released two veteran catchers who were not on the 40-man roster. When Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday were let go, Knapp became one of just two catchers in camp, the other being starter Cameron Rupp (see story).

So it's pretty obvious that the 25-year-old Knapp will open the season with the big club -- even though nothing will become official until rosters are filed with the commissioner's office this weekend.

"Obviously there are four or five days left," Knapp said. "I'm just going to keep trying to make good impressions and try to win a job. I'm keeping my head down, trying not to think about it too much."

Knapp was the Phillies' second-round draft pick of Cal-Berkeley in 2013. He has never played in the majors.

"It would be a dream come true," he said. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point but to make a team on opening day would be pretty special and it would be the best moment in my career so far."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged that Knapp would probably make the club.

Mackanin would like to have the rest of his roster in order over the next day or two.

"As soon as possible," he said. "Because the last four or five games I'd like to play almost as if it were a season -- using the bullpen that way, using the bench in a certain way, seeing what it looks like, our bench guys, all our hitters. We just don't want to make a bad decision so we're just going to string it out as long as we can."

Roster questions must still be answered on the bench and in the bullpen.

How does the bench shape up? Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and Knapp are set. The Phils are expected to go with a five-man bench so that leaves two openings. There are four players vying for those spots: Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin has impressed, but at 22 years old, he would benefit from playing every day at Triple A.

Mackanin praised Stassi's work on Monday. If Stassi makes the club, the final spot would come down to Coghlan and Nava.

"Stassi has obviously made a great impression, mainly because, not necessarily because of his results, but the fact that he had a lot of quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "It looks like he can handle making adjustments to the different pitchers and different situations. He seemed to handle left-handers well. He made a good impression, as has Coughlan. Nava has also been consistent throughout the spring."

Stassi, Coghlan and Nava are all non-roster players so the Phils would have to clear 40-man roster space to add any of them.

Two spots remain open in the bullpen. Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Alec Asher and Cesar Ramos are the candidates. All but Ramos is on the 40-man roster.

How will this all shake out?

More answers are probably coming Tuesday.