30 Prospects in 30 Days: Kolten Wong – 2B – St. Louis Cardinals
The Minnesota Twins initially selected Kolten Wong in the 16th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft out of Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, Hawaii after the left-handed slugger finished his senior year batting .600 and shared the state’s Baseball Player of the Year Award. Wong chose the college route instead and enrolled at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Wong started 178 consecutive games between his Freshman and Junior seasons at both center field and second base for the Warriors. In each of those three campaigns, the 5’ 9”, 190 pound Wong earned first-team All-WAC honors and ultimately became the 22nd overall selection of the first round in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals brass inked the first-rounder for $1.3 million and shipped him off to Quad Cities of the Midwest League (A). In 47 games, Wong slashed .335/.401/.510 with five homers, 25 RBI and nine stolen bases. He showed some fine plate discipline in his first taste of professional ball with a 9.5% BB% and a 10.8 K%. The then 21 year-old attended the Arizona Fall League where he appeared to get a bit more aggressive at the plate in 17 games. But aside from the .324 average, the aggressive approach at the plate didn’t seem to work out so well: he struck out more (14.5% K%), barely took any free passes (2.6% BB%) and posted an awful .068 ISO.
In 2012, Wong played 126 games for Springfield of the Double-A Texas League. He triple slashed .287/.348/.405 with nine round-trippers, 52 RBI and swiped 21 stolen bases in 32 attempts. While his batting average dipped below .300 for the first time in his professional career, he improved on his ability to hit for extra-bases (.119 ISO) while taking more walks (7.8% BB%) and striking out less (12.8% K%) than he did in the AFL.
Wong is slashing .316/.350/.579 in 14 games this Spring (20 PA) — one home run, three RBI and one stolen base — but appears to be behind Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter on the depth chart. And despite the lack of quality middle infield depth, the Cardinals are likely to send Wong to Triple-A to start the 2013 season. After some additional seasoning in the minors, we could see Wong recalled at some point during the summer as he seems to be the long-term solution to the second base position for the Cards.
Baseball America ranks Wong as the #84 overall prospect in MLB and #5 in the Cards organization. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranks Wong 79th overall and also #5 in the St. Louis organization. Both indicate he possesses a solid arm, plays fine defense and could be the future lead-off hitter and second basemen for the Red Birds for years to come.
Keeper, Dynasty and deep NL-Only leaguers should pay close attention to Kolten Wong as he could be a nice source of speed and pop at a premium position.