After visiting pitchers in College Station, Texas; Corvallis, Ore.; and Nashville, Tenn., let’s head to beautiful Honolulu and turn our attention to a non-pitcher, Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong, as we continue to look at prospects the Reds might select with the 27th overall pick in the MLB Draft on June 6.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has Wong sneaking into the bottom third of the first round, right where Cincinnati selects. Jim Callis of Baseball America predicted in late April the Reds might select Wong. Callis wrote that Wong could be major league ready by 2013.
Wong (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) is a junior and three-year starter for the Rainbow Warriors. A native of Hilo, he bats left-handed and throws right. He will be a three-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection.
This season, Wong has posted a line of 6-41-.365/.480/.537 with 21 stolen bases in 26 tries. He has smacked seven doubles and three triples, has walked 33 times and struck out 18. Wong’s fielding percentage is .962. Last season, Wong went 7-40-.357/.441/.534. As a freshman he was 11-52-.341/.416/.597.
Wong was the WAC freshman of the year in 2009 when he was Hawaii’s starting CF. He also spent some time at catcher and recorded a very impressive 1.87 pop time to second base. Wong has played all three outfield positions and spent some time at shortstop.
Small but athletic, Wong runs well, with a 4.41-second time from home to first and a 6.81 time in the 60-yard dash. He has hit either leadoff or in the No. 3 hole most of his college career. He displays exceptional bat speed.
Wong has solid range at second base and turns the double play well. He is a competitor with a strong work ethic. Wong is short to the ball, patient at the plate and is difficult to strike out. He makes hard, consistent contact.
Wong, a 16th-round selection by the Minnesota Twins out of high school, was the most valuable player of the 2010 Cape Cod League after hitting .341/.426/.452 with 3 homers, 11 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 38 games. He has hit well with wooden bats.
While his numbers are impressive, just 16 of Wong’s 65 hits this season have gone for extra bases. In 2009 he batted just .215 with Team USA. Against teams ranked in the top 25, Wong has gone 17-for-56 (.303) while going 48-for-123 (.390) against everyone else. He has little protection in a Hawaii lineup that for most of the season has featured just two players batting better than .290.
Baseball America rates Wong as the 27th-best player available and calls him one of the draft’s best pure bats. One American League scout called Wong “the best hitter in the draft.”