Soon after his career ended at Mountain Pointe, Scott Kingery had a plan but nowhere to execute it.
He was going to continue to work hard, grow as a player and continue playing the game the way he always had.
After all, it led to an appearance at the Little League World Series, winning an Arizona state championship and being named a Louisville Slugger All-American.
It wasn’t a fail safe, but it certainly served Kingery well.
“It seems like a long time ago,” he said a few days after being named Pac-12 Player of the Year.
And yet Kingery is at similar stage but with much better footing.
The Arizona junior is just days away from being drafted into the professional ranks. Some projections have the second baseman going in the top 40 picks of the MLB Draft on June 8.
It certainly does seem like a long time ago when he was uncertain about his future after finishing up at Mountain Pointe.
He never received the scholarship offer from a Division I school he wanted, didn’t get drafted like some of his Pride teammates and didn’t want to head to junior college.
Kingery knew he’d prove to be worthy of a scholarship and the scout’s positive pen so he headed to Arizona with no guarantee of being on the spring roster his freshman year.
“It definitely gave me a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I had to prove myself every single day in fall ball as a freshman. I didn’t have a spot on the spring roster.
“It could have ended right there.”
Oh, but it didn’t.
Sure he had to play outfield his first two years and got closer to his natural position of shortstop by moving to second base this season, but per usual Kingery proved to be successful.
He entered his junior season having started 84 of 96 games to earn All-Pac 12 honors after his sophomore year.
“He’ll do some of the little things that we have always done in our program,” Arizona coach Andy Lopez said before the season. “He’ll hit-and-run. He’ll bunt-and-run. He’ll slash-and-run. He’ll drag. He’ll push. He’ll do a lot of things to create pressure on a defense. Scott is very, very good at those things.”
Then this season, with a scholarship for the first time, Kingery became the conference’s best player and earned one of 21 nominations for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s top player.
“Every year of playing Pac 12 baseball helps your confidence, helps you learn and improve,” he said. “I had two good years, and I was ready to have a great year.”
It helped also that he finally added some height and weight to his athletic frame. When he left Ahwatukee for Tucson he was about 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds.
When he heads to pre-draft camps with the Diamondbacks and Angels in the coming days Kingery is listed at 5-11, 175.
“I worked on agility and quickness, and could drive the ball more,” Kingery said. “I added more power each year.”
Kingery led the league with a .392 batting average this season and was named to the conference all-defensive team. He became the third Wildcat to win the conference batting title in the last four seasons and the eighth since the school joined the conference in 1978-79.
Now a two-time all-conference honoree, Kingery’s tremendous campaign included a Pac-12-leading 92 base hits and 53 runs scored. He collected 15 doubles, five triples and five homers, while driving in 36 runs and stealing 11 bases. Defensively, Kingery tallied 192 assists and helped the Wildcats turn 51 double plays on the season.
It was the culmination of the plan - work hard, grow as a player and continue playing the game the way he always had - and now he is ready to apply the same one for whatever organization that takes a chance on him.
“I’ve seen all of these (former teammates) like Cole Tucker, Kevin Cron and Jordan Kipper make it (to the pros) and they all are telling me it’s my turn,” he said. “I’m hearing a bunch of things (about the draft). I’ll go to the pre-draft workouts and do what I can and cross my fingers.”
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