Wong 22nd Overall Pick in Baseball DraftJune 7, 2011, 8:20 AM HST · Updated June 7, 9:40 AM 0 Comments
By Fred Guzman
Three years ago, Kolten Wong of Kamehameha Schools on the Big Island was selected in the 16th round of the Major League Baseball draft. When the Twins offered him a $75,000 signing bonus and four years of schooling, Wong declined and instead enrolled at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Yesterday, Wong’s decision delay his entry into the pro ranks paid off in a big way. Converted from prep catcher to standout college second baseman, Wong was chosen in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals as the 22nd overall pick. As a result, Wong can expect to secure a bonus in excess of $1 million based on recent trends.
But it’s Wong’s bat and speed, rather than his glove, that captivated the Cardinals’ front office.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound junior from Hilo was recently named a third-team All-American and was chosen to the All-WAC first team for the third time in as many years following another productive season at the plate and on the base paths.
More importantly, perhaps, was a pair of productive summers Wong spent in the wood-bat Cape Cod summer league, where he was a star performer.
Wong joins pitchers Derek Tatsuno in 1982), Mike Campbell in 1985 and Mark Johnson in 1996 as UH’s only first-round selections.
He also closed out his UH career eighth all-time in hits (235), second in home runs (25), ninth in doubles (47), seventh in total bases (385) and fourth in batting average (.358) in just three seasons.
Now, he’ll get the chance to show his stuff at the pro level.