The 2011 MLB Draft got underway last night and it was like just about every draft over the years. Some teams took the obvious choices at the top, some teams reached for players and some of the “signability” guys fell. The Cardinals had been linked to a number of players leading up to the draft and ended up selecting one of them in Kolten Wong. Let’s take a closer look at this selection:
Day 1 Draft Grade: B
Kolten Wong, 2B, University of Hawaii
Wong isn’t a big guy at 5’9″ and 180lbs but don’t be fooled that he can’t handle the bat. He handles the bat from the left side just fine with good bat speed. He has an advanced approach at the plate and is a very patient hitter that has a great knowledge of the strikezone. He has a little pop in his bat but profiles more as gap power. He will spray the ball all over the field which bodes well for him in pro ball with no glaring hole at the plate that could be exploited. He has been pitched around quite a bit this year but has never shown frustation or expanded his zone which shows his maturity level. He projets as a solid 2 hole hitter as he can do it all (bunt, hit and run, hit to the right side to move a runner, etc). He also stole over 20 bags this year but his speed is just slightly above avg. He is a smart baserunner and projects as no more than a 15 SB guy but will take the extra base when possible.
On defense Wong has adequate range and arm but great insticts which makes his range look better than it actually is. He will do all the small things correct and is mentally tough. He probably will never be a gold glover but also won’t be a liability.
I like Wong but didn’t love him due to his limited upside. His upside is already realized so to a degree you get what you see. I have heard comps from Fernando Vina to Carlos Baerga to Dustim Pedroia. I am not a fan of MLB comps to college players but I see a little of all of those guys in him. My main issue with the pick was the numerous upside guys that were still on the board when we picked. Daniel Norris, Taylor Guerrieri, Josh Bell, Alex Meyer, Robert Stephenson and Henry Owens were all on the board. Now Norris and Bell were not taken due to signability and $$$ concerns…and that is why they are still on the board going into Day 2. Meyer has control challenges but has improved this year, some don’t see as much upside in Owens as I do and not sure why Stephenson wasn’t the choice as I haven’t heard anything about his signability. With all that said I am content with this pick assuming we take a few upside guys on Day 2. Luhnow came out and stated that they had a list of 5 guys on their board and Wong was the only guy left when they picked…be curious to know the other 4 names!
Wong will also be a quick mover as I see him arriving in 1.5-2 years which in itself holds value to get a quick ROI. Most see Wong as an easy sign but he is being advised by Boras so you never know. Wong himself said he looks forward to getting started but most players say the same thing. To me I see a slightly above slot signing but not so much that it will hold up his signing until the deadline.