Friday, August 10, 2012

Kolten Wong, the Future at Second Base

Second base has been a revolving door for the Cardinals in recent seasons. In fact, they haven't had an All Star second baseman since Tommy Herr in 1985! Fernando Vina started from 2000 to 2003, but there has been many different second baseman come and go since then. Bo Hart, Tony Womack, Marlon Anderson, Hector Luna, Mark Grudzielanek, Aaron Miles, Ronnie Belliard, Adam Kennedy, Felipe Lopez, Skip Schumaker, Tyler Greene, Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot, Daniel Descalso, and a few others.

This season, Descalso and Greene split time early on with Schumaker on the DL to start the season. Management was hoping that Greene could finally put it together at the big league level after putting up good seasons in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, his speed and athleticism didn't translate to success in St. Louis. After a miserable game by him(and the team) on Wednesday, he was traded after making some remarks about the fans booing. Better players have been traded for such remarks, like Garry Templeton. Templeton flipped the fans off after being booed one game. Templeton had told Whitey Herzog that he didn't like playing day games after night games, and let his frustration be known. Even though he was an All Star, he was traded after the 1981 season for Ozzie Smith.

Descalso plays top notch defense and has a knack for key hits, but is a weak hitter overall. He is better suited as a utility infielder, since he can play any infield position well. Schumaker is a good average hitter, but weak defensively at second base. Outfield is Skip's natural position, but he is capable of playing second. Matt Carpenter has also played a bit of second base this year. The Cardinals brought up Triple A shortstop Ryan Jackson to fill Greene's spot after yesterday's game. Jackson has more upside than Pete Kozma, but isn't that good of a hitter either. In fact, Greene hit better in Triple A than either Jackson or Kozma. The Cardinals can probably make do with what they have for the rest of the year, but an upgrade would be nice.

Luckily, the Cardinals have a guy in Double A who will be ready to take over in the next year or so. Last season, the Cardinals spent their number 1 draft pick on University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong. Wong plays good defense, hits for a good average, shows patience at the plate, has some pop in his bat, and steals bases. Currently, Wong is batting .285 with 17 doubles, 8 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 17 steals in 104 games in Springfield. After Oscar Taveras, Wong is the Cardinals second best position prospect. A lot of teams would like to have him, but the Cardinals would not consider trading Wong at the deadline.

Both Wong and Taveras made the Futures Game in Kansas City during the All Star break. The Cardinals have said publicly that they don't plan on rushing them to the majors. It's possible that Wong could be moved to Triple A this year, but the majors is unlikely. Wong will turn 22 in October, and I look for him to make a push to make the big club in spring training next year. I would expect the Cardinals to keep second base open for him, and not sign or trade for any bigtime second baseman in the offseason.

It's likely that Wong will be the Cardinals second baseman for quite some time once he reaches the big leagues.Wong isn't the biggest guy at 5-9, but he has worked on all aspects on his game. That shouldn't be a disadvantage considering many other second baseman are smaller, like Dustin Pedroia or Jose Altuve. I think Wong has a good chance to break the Cardinals All Star-less streak at second base someday. Hopefully, he will be in the big leagues sometime next year.

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