The Phillies announced a set of roster moves, including the news that utilityman Scott Kingery, left-hander JoJo Romeo, and catcher Rafael Marchan have been optioned to Triple-A. Outfielder Travis Jankowski and catcher Rodolfo Duran were reassigned to the team’s minor league camp, and catcher Christian Bethancourt (in camp on a minors contract) has been released.
Though Kingery has had a tough time at the plate in Spring Training, it still counts as something of a surprise to see the 26-year-old not break camp with the team. While Kingery could be recalled in relatively short order, today’s move underlines how the former top prospect has struggled since the start of the 2020 season, a year that saw him suffer through a positive COVID-19 diagnosis during the summer and then hit just .159/.228/.283 in 124 plate appearances once he got onto the field.
The Phillies thought so highly of Kingery’s potential in 2018 that he was signed to a contract extension before even debuting in the majors. Though he had a rough 2018 rookie season, Kingery looked to be turning the corner with a respectable .258/.315/.474 slash line over 500 plate appearances in 2019 before his season-long setback last year. Heading into the current season, Kingery was seen as a candidate to win the Phillies’ center field job. While Kingery would still have been a backup option at multiple other positions, it seemed as though he would primarily be focused on outfield work — perhaps a necessary move, given how Kingery has spoken in the past about the extra difficulties associated with a super-utility role.
With Kingery now in the minors, it could be a sign that the Phillies are confident that Brad Miller will be ready to go on Opening Day and assume super-utility duties. Miller has been out since March 10 due to an oblique injury, but he is in Philadelphia’s lineup today for their Spring Training game with the Yankees.
Romero’s demotion also counts as a bit of a surprise, both because he’d pitched well in camp and because Jose Alvarado now looks to be the only left-hander in the Philly bullpen after Tony Watson opted out of his minor league contract earlier this week. The hard-throwing Romero (a fourth-round pick for the Phillies in the 2016 draft) worked exclusively as a reliever when making his MLB debut in 2020, but since he has otherwise operated as a starting pitcher in the minors, he could be kept stretched out as potential rotation depth.
Bethancourt signed minor league contracts with the Phillies in each of the last two offseasons, but has yet to appear in a big league game with the team. Bethancourt hit .222/.252/.316 over 489 PA with the Braves and Padres from 2013-17 and hasn’t since returned to the Show, spending 2018 with the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate and playing in South Korea in 2019.