Kingery to make transition back to infield
Sophomore outfielder Scott Kingery runs to home plate during a 10-5 win against UC Santa Barabra on March 8. Kingery finished the season with a team-leading .354 batting average.
After two years of waiting, Arizona sophomore outfielder Scott Kingery will finally be given the option to transition from being an outfielder and return to his natural territory in the infield.
When Kingery entered Arizona’s program as a middle-infielder out of high school the Wildcats had just won the National Championship and the coaching staff was trying to rebuild after losing three outfielders to the 2012 MLB Draft.
Kingery said he was first placed in the outfield during one of the program’s intrasquad games his freshman year.
“I made some really nice plays and they just kept putting me out there; it felt natural to me,” Kingery said. “The coaches liked my athleticism and it gave me a chance to show off my speed and range a little bit. All in all, the transition from the infield to the outfield during my freshman year was a pretty easy adjustment.”
Last year as a sophomore, Kingery started 53 of the Wildcats’ 55 games in the outfield and saw great success not only at the plate, but on the base paths as well.
The Phoenix native finished the season tied for a league-leading 19 stolen bases and ranked second in the Pac-12 with a .456 on-base percentage.
Now that Arizona has signed a speedy center fielder out of the junior college ranks to provide more stability in the outfield next year, the coaching staff has shifted its focus to filling a recent void in their infield left by the drafting of junior second baseman Trent Gilbert.
“[Kingery] will obviously be one of our key guys next year,” head coach Andy Lopez said. “Ideally, I want to get a third baseman and move Kingery here [to second], because I really like what’s going on with [Kevin] Newman and him.”
Lopez said if the squad can’t find the third baseman they’re looking for, then they plan on finding a second baseman and Kingery, being as versatile as he is, would be able to swing over and play third.
“He’s a team guy and he proved that by coming here and playing center field even though he came into the program as a shortstop,” Lopez said.
Kingery pointed out that a few of the differences between playing in the infield versus the outfield include different approaches, reaction times, routes and throwing mechanics.
“It definitely takes time to get used to it, but I don’t feel out of place really,” Kingery said. “I just need to pick up on some things that I forgot about when playing the infield.”
Kingery said he will begin working in the infield this summer while he’s competing in the Cape Cod Baseball League and that hopefully he will get back into the swing of things by the time fall ball starts up.
“I’m going back to something I’ve felt comfortable doing my whole life, so returning to the infield should be pretty natural,” Kingery said. “I don’t really think the transition will impede my production in any way.”
— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17