Kolten Wong, courtesy of the University of Hawai'i Media Relations department
Kolten Wong is short and he's from Hawai'i. Those are two big strikes against him in baseball scouting circles, but should they be? Wong has shown he can hit, both with aluminum bats and the new ones they're using this year. He hits for power and average. He gets on base.
To paraphrase Dustin Pedroia, it's Laser Show 2.0.
Scouts don't always get out to Hawai'i, though, so he hasn't had a huge national profile until recently. Even then, most mock drafters have listed him at the bottom of the first round. Many teams will be scared away by his size (listed at 5-foot-9) and the fact he doesn't play a premium position like shortstop or catcher. The reports are that he will be decent defensively, so he could stick at second base in the future.
Oh, did I mention Baseball America listed him as the second-best pure hitter in college behind Anthony Rendon? If this were a different draft...well, Wong's size would still keep him out of the Top 15 in this draft But it shouldn't. He's a legitimate prospect. All it's going to take is a team to believe in his tools and ignore his size.
With a guy who can hit like him, the question becomes his position. If his power doesn't translate to the pros, he's still a good hitter. It just limits his impact. At the very least, he'll be a guy who can hit .280 and play a decent position or come off the bench. But, I think that's his absolute floor, as a left-handed pinch hitter in the big leagues.
I don't want to get too hyperbolic here (said right before I get hyperbolic), but I think Wong could become the kind of hitter Joe Morgan was. That's his upper limit. With his bat speed, power/speed combo on the bases and the ability to play a solid second base, there's no question that Wong could be the same kind of as Morgan. I'm not comparing them as players, because it's silly to link anyone to a Hall of Famer. But, the Pedroia comp is also inevitable, given their size and position. If that's Wong's upper end, he's still sitting pretty good.
pick him? If so, where?
He makes a lot of sense for the Astros. Wong's advanced profile means he could be in the majors as soon as the 2013 season, playing a good second base for Houston. The problem is he's blocked by a couple of other high-profile signees that Houston added into his system. Wong plays second; DDJ plays second; Jose Carlos Thompson plays second; Jimmy Paredes plays second; Jose Altuve plays second. In a system that doesn't have great depth, do the Astros want to take someone at a position that's already deep? Granted, Wong would be a better prospect than any of the names I just listed and some of them could be moved off position.
Plus, Houston would have to take him No. 11 overall, which would be a reach. Most drafts have him going in the late 20's, if he goes at all in the first round. Still, it doesn't look like Wong will be there in the second round for Houston, meaning he'd have to be the top guy. I'm not sure Houston could pass on a pitcher there, but an impact bat is always needed. I'm torn here.
Where is he projected to go right now?
Keith Law did not have him listed.
Perfect Game USA did not have him listed.
MLB Bonus Baby had him at No. 20 to the Rockies.
Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)
Below the jump
Kolten Wong is going to hit. Listen to me. A hitter hits. Your natural hitters always hit no matter what level and what league. Track records don’t lie. I’m not a big stats guy, but at some point, you have to tip your hat
Wong profiles as an above-average hitter who will spray line drives from foul pole to foul pole. He has surprising pop for his size and should hit 10-15 home runs a year as a pro. He's also willing to do the little things—he can bunt for a base hit and hit-and-run with the best of them. He profiles best at second base but could become a Chone Figgins type who moves around the field.