Kolten Wong, Saint Louis Cardinals rookie, on September 14, 2013
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 16|
October 10, 1990 |
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|August 16, 2013 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||0|
Kolten Kaha Wong (born October 10, 1990) is an American professional baseball second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at the University of Hawaii. The Cardinals drafted him in 2011 and Wong made his MLB debut for them in 2013. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.
Kolten Wong is the son of Kaha Wong, who played college baseball at the University of Southern California, and spent two years in the minor leagues with the Reno Silver Sox in Class-A. Despite batting .280 in 157 games, the elder Wong returned home to Hilo, Hawaii, to raise his family. Instead of pursuing a steady career, he took whatever jobs would afford him the most time to teach Kolten the game and about working out, which he emphasized on a daily basis. In time, Kolten Wong befriended mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighting Championship star B. J. Penn, whose father, Jay Dee Penn, correspondingly befriended Kaha Wong. The Penns ran a gym which allowed Kaha Wong to train children how to swing a bat.
To train as a baseball player, Wong spent two hours cutting trees with an axe to improve his strength and daily sessions in a batting cage. His younger brother, Kean, played in the Junior Little League World Series.
High school and college
Wong was a two-sport star at Kamehameha Hawaii High School in Keaau, Hawaii, playing baseball and football. As a baseball standout, Wong batted .600 during his senior year and was named a co-winner for the 2008 Hawaii Baseball Player of the Year honor. Wong was a top scholar as well.
The Minnesota Twins drafted him in the 16th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. A scout from the Twins presented Wong with a $75,000 contract offer, which he refused, stating that "after taxes, it’s not even that much." Wong chose not to sign, opting to attend the University of Hawaii, where he played college baseball for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. In a game against Loyola Marymount in his freshman year, he hit three home runs (HR). The Rainbow Warriors won a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament in his sophomore year and a regular season championship. Against Louisiana Tech in the WAC tournament, he hit the game-tying and game-winning home runs. Wong was a three-time first-team All-WAC selection. As a freshman, he batted .341 with 11 HR. During his sophomore year, he hit .357. As a junior, Wong led the team in batting average at .378 and was fourth in the WAC; he also finished fourth in the WAC in slugging percentage (.560) and third in on-base percentage (.492). Other totals included 48 runs scored, 11 doubles, seven home runs, 23 stolen bases (SB) and 42 bases on balls (BB). Wong was named a Baseball America All-American in 2011.
Professional career (2011–present)
Wong made himself available for the amateur draft after his junior season at Hawaii, and the Cardinals selected him in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. According to MLB.com, Wong was the #4 ranked prospect in the Cardinals organization. He made his professional debut that season with the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class A Midwest League. In 47 games, he batted .335 with 15 doubles, five home runs, 25 RBI and nine stolen bases.
Wong played for the Springfield Cardinals of the Class AA Texas League in 2012, batting .287 with 52 RBI and 21 SB. He was selected for the 2012 All-Star Futures Game. Wong finished the year playing in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), where he batted .324 with 12 RBI and five stolen bases. He was selected for the AFL "Top Prosect" team for second base after the season concluded. He spent most of the 2013 season with the Memphis Redbirds of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, where he hit .303 with 10 HR, 45 RBI, and 20 SB in 107 games, before the Cardinals called him up to the Major Leagues on August 16. Wong appeared in 32 games, collecting nine hits in 59 AB with one double for a .153 batting average.
Wong was named to the 2013 Cardinals' postseason roster. He played in seven total games between the National League Division Series, National League Championship Series and World Series. He made his World Series debut in Game 3 against the Boston Red Sox as a defensive substitution and collected a hit in the bottom of the eighth inning in his only Series plate appearance. Wong also appeared in Game 4 when manager Mike Matheny inserted him as a pinch runner in the ninth inning. However, Boston closer Koji Uehara picked him off first base for the final out of the game, the only occasion in which a World Series game ended on a pickoff play.[a] Boston won the game, 4–2 and went on to win the Series, 4–2.
- Source notes
- Hull, Billy (May 26, 2011). "Workin’ for a livin’". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "Kolten Wong always wanted to be a pro baseball player. He's made it a labor of love to do it the right way."
- "Kaha Wong minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- Pleskoff, Bernie (November 26, 2012). "Wong building case to aid Cards at top of lineup". MLB.com via St. Louis Cardinals official team website. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Gintonio, Jim (November 15, 2012). "Cardinals prospect Wong brings confident game to AFL". MLB.com via Cardinals team website. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
- "Kolten Wong". Hawaii Athletics. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- "College: Awards: All-America Teams: 2011 College All-America Team". BaseballAmerica.com. June 15, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Mayo, Jonathan (May 24, 2013). "Prospects pack rosters for 2012 All-Star Futures Game | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Goold, Derick (November 27, 2012). "Cardinals make shift in farm system". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- Langosch, Jenifer (August 15, 2013). "Cards to call up Wong for first Major League stint: Rated No. 4 prospect, second baseman to join team Friday; Chambers to be optioned". MLB.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer; McCalvy, Adam; Thornburg, Chad (October 27, 2013). "Wong makes most of first World Series experience". MLB.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Corcoran, Cliff (October 28, 2013). "Watch: Kolten Wong picked off to end Game 4 with Carlos Beltran at plate". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (October 31, 2013). "Cardinals' title dreams dashed in Game 6". MLB.com. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)