Kolten Wong

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Kolten Wong
Koltenwong2013cardinals.jpg
Kolten Wong, Saint Louis Cardinals rookie, on September 14, 2013
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 16
Second baseman
Born: (1990-10-10) October 10, 1990 (age 23)
Hilo, Hawaii
Bats: Left Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 16, 2013 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
(through July 22, 2014)
Batting average .241
Home runs 6
Runs batted in 24
Hits 58
Teams
Career highlights and awards

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 Rainbow Warriors at the University of Hawaii. The Cardinals made him a first-round draft pick in 2011 and he made his MLB debut two years later. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Despite batting .280 in 157 games, the elder Wong returned home to Hilo, Hawaii, to raise his family.[1][2] 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.[1]

Kolten Wong during spring training in 2013

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.[1]

High school and college[edit]

Wong was a two-sport star at Kamehameha Hawaii High School in Keaau, Hawaii, playing baseball and football.[3] 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.[3] Wong was a top scholar as well.[4]

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."[1] Wong chose not to sign, opting to attend the University of Hawaii, where he played college baseball for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.[4]

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.[5]

As a freshman, he batted .341 with 11 HR. During his sophomore year, he hit .357.[1] 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).[5] Wong was named a Baseball America All-American in 2011.[6]

Professional career (2011–present)[edit]

Wong rounding second, 2014

Availing himself for the amateur draft after his junior season at Hawaii, the Cardinals selected Wong in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. According to MLB.com, he was the #4-ranked prospect in the Cardinals organization.[4] 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.

After earning a promotion to the Springfield Cardinals of the Class AA Texas League in 2012, Wong batted .287 with 52 RBI and 21 SB.[4] He was selected for the 2012 All-Star Futures Game.[7] Wong finished the year playing in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), where he batted .324 with 12 RBI and five stolen bases.[3] He was selected for the AFL "Top Prospect" team for second base after the season concluded.[8] He spent most of the 2013 season with the Memphis Redbirds of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. In May, Wong had a 20-game hitting streak, collecting 30 hits in 70 at bats (AB). He also had 10 multi-hit games during that streak.[9] His totals at Memphis included a .303 batting average with 10 HR, 45 RBI, and 20 SB in 107 games, before the Cardinals called him up to the Major Leagues on August 16.[10] He participated in his second All-Star Futures Game in July.[11] He appeared in 32 MLB games, collecting nine hits in 59 AB with one double for a .153 batting average. In December, the Cardinals named him their Minor League Player of the Year for 2013.[9]

Manager Mike Matheny named Wong to the 2013 Cardinals' postseason roster. He played in seven total games between the National League Division Series (NLDS), National League Championship Series (NLCS) 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.[12] Wong also appeared in Game 4 when 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.[13][14]

2014[edit]

The virtual heir apparent to second base since being drafted, Wong became the de facto starter out of spring training for 2014. The Cardinals had already traded World Series MVP and third baseman David Freese and moved All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter to third base.[15] Veteran free agent signee Mark Ellis was to provide insurance and guidance for him. However, Wong struggled mightily early in the season and was eventually sent down to AAA Memphis. He returned to the MLB club in May after hitting .344 with two homers, five steals, and an .867 OPS in 15 games and developing a modified swing.[16]

Batting .333 with the Cardinals for the month of May, Wong's was the highest average for rookies with a minimum of 40 plate appearances. He also made no defensive errors.[17] Wong's plus-7 defensive runs saved led NL second basemen despite spending time in the minor leagues.[18] He was therefore named the National League Rookie of the Month.[17] On June 3, he hit his first career MLB home run, a grand slam against the Royals ace James Shields.[19] Reaggravating a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the month, the Cardinals placed him on the 15 day disabled list (DL) on June 21.[20] After returning from the DL, Wong hit a double to tie the score 2–2 in the second inning of a July 8 contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the score tied 4–4 in the bottom of the ninth of that game, he hit his first walk-off home run off Ernesto Frieri.[21] In a seven-game span beginning with a return from that DL stint and ending with the beginning of the All-Star Break, he hit five home runs.[22]

Awards[edit]

Award/honor # of times Dates (Ranking or event) Refs
Major leagues
National League Rookie of the Month 1 May 2014 [17]
Minor leagues
Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game 2 2012, 2013 [7][11]
Minor Leagues All-Star 3 2012 midseason and postseason (Texas League), 2012 All-Prospect Team (Arizona Fall League) [23]
St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year 1 2013 [9]
Baseball America Top 100 Prospects 3 pre-2012 (#93), pre-2013 (#84), pre-2014 (#58) [24]
MLB.com Top 100 prospects 2 pre-2013 (#79), pre-2014 (#58) [24]
Baseball Prospectus Top 100 Prospects 3 pre-2012 (#88), pre-2013 (#90), pre-2014 (#33) [24]

Personal Life[edit]

Wong's brother, Kean, is a prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization and is also a second baseman. They have a sister, Kiani, who is a softball player at Hawaii. He is dating Alissa Noll, a former track and field athlete at Hawaii.[15]

On December 19, 2013, Kolten's mother, Keala Wong, died from cancer.[25]

References[edit]

Footnote

a Although the 1926 World Series between the Cardinals and the New York Yankees ended on the base path, it was on a stolen base attempt by Babe Ruth, not a pickoff.

Source notes
  1. ^ a b c d e f 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." 
  2. ^ "Kaha Wong minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c 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. 
  4. ^ a b c d Gintonio, Jim (November 15, 2012). "Cardinals prospect Wong brings confident game to AFL". MLB.com via Cardinals team website. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Kolten Wong". Hawaii Athletics. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "College: Awards: All-America Teams: 2011 College All-America Team". BaseballAmerica.com. June 15, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Mayo, Jonathan (May 24, 2013). "Prospects pack rosters for 2012 All-Star Futures Game | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  8. ^ Goold, Derick (November 27, 2012). "Cardinals make shift in farm system". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Cardinals Press Release (December 11, 2013). "St. Louis Cardinals name Wong and Petrick Minor League Player & Pitcher of the Year". stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ a b Langosch, Jenifer (July 14, 2013). "Path not clear cut, but future bright for Wong". stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Langosch, Jenifer; McCalvy, Adam; Thornburg, Chad (October 27, 2013). "Wong makes most of first World Series experience". MLB.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Langosch, Jenifer (October 31, 2013). "Cardinals' title dreams dashed in Game 6". MLB.com. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Goold, Derrick (January 10, 2014). "No time to breathe for Kolten Wong". St.Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ Gleeman, Aaron (May 14, 2014). "Cardinals call up Kolten Wong from Triple-A". NBCSports Hardball Talk. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c MLB Press Release (June 3, 2014). "Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals voted National League Rookie of the Month for May". MLB.com. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ Goold, Derrick (June 4, 2014). "Answering 7 – make that 9 – questions as Cardinal Nation's angst meter redlines; 6: Is Adams a defensive plus?". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  19. ^ Halsted, Alex (June 3, 2014). "Bats erupt as Cards fall in offensive outburst". MLB.com. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ Perry, Dayne (June 21, 2014). "Cardinals place Kolten Wong on DL with shoulder soreness". CBSSports.com. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  21. ^ Jaffe, Jay (July 9, 2014). "After a long drought, Cardinals hit walk-off homers two nights in a row". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Hilo’s Wong homers for 5th time in 7 games, Cardinals extend Brewers losing streak to 7". khon2.com. Associated Press. July 12, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Kolten Wong profile". Scout.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c "Kolten Wong minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ Jakahi, Kevin (January 10, 2014). "Wongs fight on". West Hawaii Today. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 

External links[edit]