With the 22nd overall selection in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong.
Wong, 20, is a junior who posted a career .358 batting average (245-for-684) with 47 doubles, 25 home runs and 145 RBI, while posting a career slugging percentage of .563 and on-base percentage of .449. A left-handed hitter, Wong profiles as an above average hitter and a smart runner on the basepaths who stole 53 bases in 71 attempts during his college career.
Wong is a three-time First-Team All-WAC, selected to the WAC All-Tournament team, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 WAC Postseason Tournament, MVP of the Cape Cod summer league and a two-time Louisville Slugger Postseason All-America Team selection.
“We are very excited to select Kolten as our first pick. We were looking to add infield depth to our organization and Kolten is a great part to that,” said Cardinals Vice President of Scouting & Player Development, Jeff Luhnow. “His swing is one of his strong assets, and defensively we think he will prove to be a solid second baseman for us. We look for him to be a fast mover through our system.”
The Hilo, Hawaii native started 57 games this season for the Rainbows, 53 at second where he registered a .954 fielding pct. (89 put outs, 139 assists, 11 errors). He also played at catcher and centerfield.
Wong led his team in almost every offensive category during the 2011 season, including average (.378), slugging (.560), on-base percentage (.492), hits (79), RBI (53) and home runs (7). He stole 23 bases during the season and led the club with 27 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI games.
During the Western Athletic Conference tournament this season, Wong hit .412 (7-for-17) with one home run and five RBI and was named the WAC tournament MVP in 2010, as he helped Hawaii to their first title since 1992.
Detailed analysis from The Cardinal Nation writer Pierce Jefferson:
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Current Team: University of Hawaii
In a draft loaded with pitching talent, one would have thought that there would be plenty of arms available for the Cardinals with their 22nd pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. That didn’t matter as the Cardinals took Kolten Wong, second baseman out of the University of Hawaii. Wong was considered to be one of the few pure college hitters available in this year’s draft.
Wong, who was born in Hilo, Hawaii, was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 16th-round of the MLB Draft in 2008 but elected to go to the University of Hawaii after turning down a bonus reported upwards of $50,000. He finished his junior season in 2011 with a line of .378/.492/.560 and displayed consistency throughout his career there with a .358 batting average. He had 103 walks compared to 62 strikeouts during his tenure and improved his walk rate during each season, while also flashing some speed with 53 stolen bases. He was named First Team All-WAC in each of his three seasons at Hawaii.
Listed at 5’9 and 190 pounds, Wong has a polished approach from the left side of the plate. He doesn’t project to hit for above average power but has the ability to be a solid gap hitter, as he hits well to both sides of the field. He displays slightly above average speed and good baserunning instincts, and he will be a threat to steal some bases in his career. He makes good contact with the ball, as evidenced by the high batting average and low K totals in his college career, and has already shown good patience at the plate. Rated as the 11th best hitting prospect in the draft and 27th overall by Baseball America, most projections had him going off the board by the end of the first round and nearly all had him going by the end of Day 1. Both Frankie Piliere of Scout.com and Keith Law of ESPN projected him to go 20th to the Rockies.
His defense projects to be good at second base with a solid-average arm, but he shouldn’t be considered as a plus defender at his position. He’s also versatile defensively, so he could move around the field as the Cardinals see fit. He started as a centerfielder in his freshman year in 2009 and has made good strides since switching positions in 2010.
Kolten Wong video scouting report (subscriber content)
Wong answers questions after his selection: Listen to Audio (subscriber content)
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