It’s Wong time, Cardinal Nation. And the Wong time is the right time, indeed.
Wong was selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2011 First-Year player draft and spent the remainder of that season in the Quad Cities with the River Bandits, under the tutelage of then-manager Johnny Rodriguez.
Since then, he’s succeeded at every level, this year being his first with AAA Memphis where he has a line of .303/.369/.466 with 21 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers, 45 RBIs and 68 runs scored.
I had the privalege of talking to Wong toward the end of his year with the River Bandits, and there was little about him that didn’t impress me. To get a glimpse into just who the Hawaii native is, read the full story here. But, here are some of the highlights.
He’s a quiet kind of guy. Not over-the-top emotional or excited. But when he starts talking about baseball and what this career means to him, you can read the entire story in his eyes — he absolutely loves this game.
“I’m getting paid to do this,” he said. “Other people get paid to do things they don’t really want to do, so I’m just excited about that. I don’t know. Just something about being here makes me happy. It’s like [I’m] where I need to be.”
He’s happy because he’s passionate, both about what he does and how he does it. Since his professional debut with the Quad Cities River Bandits in June (the Cardinals low-A affiliate), manager Johnny Rodriguez has learned that much.
“He brings energy, passion, aggression and a desire to play the game the right way,” Rodriguez said of Wong. “Now, he’s going to make errors like everyone else, but he brings a very big-time energy to the top of the lineup and to the team itself. “
Rodriguez couldn’t say enough good things about the kid back then, finishing with this:
“Players with passion will be winners in the big leagues.”
We’re about to see how right he is.
According to Jenifer Langosch, the plans for Wong are not set in stone, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement about seeing his talent play out on the Big League level.
With Matt Carpenter thriving at second, the Cardinals have no known need at the position. However, Carpenter’s versatility – he can play both corner infield and outfield spots as well – could allow the Cardinals to get creative in finding starts for Wong. He can also provide a left-handed bat off the bench.
While speaking with MLB.com last month, Wong said he hoped a late-season callup would be in his future.
“That’s definitely something that I would love to be a part of,” Wong said. “Whether playing or not, I would love to be a part of that atmosphere and to see what that’s like would be amazing for me.”
When he makes his first appearance, Wong will become the 11th different player to make his Major League debut with the Cardinals this season. He will wear No. 16.
One thing is for sure — he’s certainly going to get a good first taste of Cardinals baseball, kicking things off against the Cubs at Wrigley!
We also know that Adron Chambers — Tuesday night’s walk-off hero — will return to Memphis to make room for Wong.
While “Wong Day” doesn’t have the ring that “Wacha Day” did, the excitement remains. Welcome to the Bigs, kid!