TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #6: Kolten Wong

Will the second baseman become the first prospect to seize a starting job in St. Louis in 2013?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
4 2B 10/10/1990 5-9 180 L R 2011 1st

School: University of Hawaii

Selected 2012 stats

SPR 0.287 0.318 523 79 150 23 9 52 44 74 21 0.341 0.348 0.405 0.754
AFL 0.324 0.371 74 12 24 2 1 12 2 11 5 0.341 0.342 0.392 0.734

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (6): Wong is a player who provokes a lot of discussion in various areas - from his ability to hit, his value and upside as a second baseman, and his readiness to assume the full time second base job for the Cardinals - all of these areas seem debatable.

Thankfully, the discussion centers around points such as whether he will be an average hitter or a great hitter, whether he will be an average defensive player or a very good one, and whether he will be a solid regular or an all-star. I come down on the more positive side of almost every one of these debates. It may take a few years, but I see Wong as a well above average hitter and unlike most people, I think he will develop above average power for a second baseman.

The only area in which I come down on the more conservative side is on the timing of his arrival in St. Louis. Many people see him as the opening day second baseman or at least starting by mid-year. I tend to think he would be better off not to be up until late season and not necessarily as a starter. I think it is almost certain - barring an injury or two to other players – that Wong will start 2013 in Triple-A Memphis. When he moves up will then continue as a point of discussion.

Message board community (7): That Wong slid from being fourth in the community vote last year to seventh despite his accomplishments says a lot about the three who moved in front of him in the community's eyes – Matt Adams, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha. Wong is likely the Cards' second baseman of the future unless Matt Carpenter can show he can play good defense at second while maintaining his offense.

Wong was one of only a dozen 2011 draftees to amass at least 100 at-bats in Double-A in 2012. Only 21 years old during the season, Wong had 523 ABs there, after having skipped high-A altogether. The lefty hitter did better against southpaws (.792 OPS) than righties (.739). His OPS was better in March/April (.882), May (.809), and June (.793) than July (.589) and August/September (.735).

Did he tire a bit in his first full season of pro ball? Did pitchers find some holes in his approach? He hit particularly well at home (.845 to .667 on the road), so is his OPS a bit inflated by the friendly confines of Hammons Field? He held his own against pitching in the Arizona Fall League with a .734 OPS.

Reports on his defense are very favorable, and he is rumored to have a good head for the game. He's fast (21 stolen bases), but still needs to improve his baserunning skills (11 caught stealing). Wong should start the 2013 season in Memphis. The Cards are sending him to Washington for MLB rookie polishing school, suggesting that we might well seem him in Busch before the season is over. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (4): My aggressive ranking of Wong reflects both his rapid progress as a prospect as well as a reflection of his strong position to seize major league opportunity as soon as he demonstrates his readiness. More than for any Cardinals prospect perhaps, a clear starting job seems to await Wong in St. Louis.

An arrival in 2013 is certainly not out of the question. Consider the competition. I don't think Daniel Descalso has shown enough with the bat to hold down a major league starting job for a playoff contender. Apparently the Cardinals also have concerns. Why else would they push the envelope by asking Matt Carpenter to try to learn second base?

I do not share the enthusiasm that many seem to have about the offense-first concept of Carpenter becoming a major league capable second baseman over the winter though the magic combination of a positive attitude and hard work. It is a nice storyline and all, but haven't we heard that one before?

In other words, most likely the door will remain wide open for Wong.

Wong continued to move in that direction during a highly-recognized 2012. He was named to the mid-season and post-season Texas League all-star teams, the MLB Futures Game and the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Showcase.

His manager with Surprise of the AFL, Jason Wood of the Rangers organization, worked with Wong every day for almost two months. His perspective means a lot as someone with no stake in Wong's career. Asked by MLB Network which player on his AFL squad is closest to being ready for the majors, Wood replied, "Kolten Wong."

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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