By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
April 6, 2011
Kolten Wong is a guy who does a lot of things well, but it all starts with the bat. Some media people will look at this guy — assuming they have actually seen the Hawaiin play in person — and bury him based off his size and body type. That’s about as stupid as it gets. Look, around scouting, this guy has been a known bat for the last few years. You don’t win the Cape Cod League MVP if you don’t swing it. I think the one mistake even scouts who have liked Wong’s bat have made is that his body type and size would limit how else he could contribute.
If you go with that thinking, then Wong would only be a LHH DH type. But I think that conclusion was short-sighted and didn’t take some factors aside from the bat into consideration. First, do the history. He was a former high school running back and a known baseball rat on the Island. So that means he’s got some athletic aptitude, some power, and some work ethic. How do those skills translate into a well-rounded pro?
DHs can’t play second base. They can’t move around like Wong does, they haven’t taken the ground balls he has, and they don’t have the arm strength to finish the double-play. Wong does. I won’t contest that he’s not going to stay at short, but it’s very hard for me to get my head around the Wong Hate-o-rade. You really telling me you don’t want a left-handed power bat playing second base? With at least major league average defense, but flashes of more to come? Who is a solid 50 runner out of the box but has enough in his legs — even with the short strides — to steal you 10-20 bases, go first to third, not be a clogger, score from second?
At some point I just start saying, well, he’s from Hawaii, and I’ve been around this game long enough to know when a boy does not come from a great big huge place on the map, he always has to work twice as hard as the more ordinary player from a large population to prove himself.
And we return to the bat. Let me make it simple for the people who have their shovels out to bury Wong. His bat head stays in the strike zone for a very long time, which means he can drive the ball. I’ll put my name on it, sure I will. Last year I liked Mike Olt more than most people did until the week before the draft. He was from Connecticut. This kid is from the other side of the country, but the bat will play from day one just like Olt’s did.