Tampa Bay Rays – When is the Right Time for Wong?
By Michael Emdeyar
Kean Wong is off to a great start this season with the Durham Bulls. Will his play force him into the equation with the Rays?
Mostly known as a second baseman, Kean Wong sits in Durham with a slash line to begin the season of .320/.386/.508. This is his best season to date by a noticeable margin. And, it would appear that the Tampa Bay Rays are taking notice.
The 2013 fourth round draft pick by the Rays has progressed nicely through the system. After playing predominantly at 2B and occasionally at 3B, the Durham Bulls have just, within the past week or so, started playing him in the outfield. That should be an indicator that the Rays are exploring other ways to utilize the young talent.
Tampa Bay has had to use several new faces so far this year. Just last week, Willy Adames got a three-game taste of the big leagues when Joey Wendle needed paternity leave. An injured thumb has sidelined Kevin Kiermaier for much of the season, forcing Johnny Field onto the scene for the first time. Christian Arroyo was recalled when Matt Duffy and Brad Miller spent time on the disabled list. Brandon Snyder even got a quick look.
Is Kean Wong next for the Tampa Bay Rays?
Johnny Field got off to an impressive start upon his first call-up with the Rays. But, in the past ten games, Johnny is batting 6 for 34 for a .176 batting average. All things considered, the same thing can be said for fellow outfielder Rob Refsnyder, who is only hitting .208 with 53 at bats to start the season. With them struggling a little, the Rays may be positioning themselves to give Wong a look. And, going in Wong’s favor is the fact that he can play multiple positions. Everyone knows how the Rays like versatility.
Next: It's time for the Rays to set a rotation.
Of course, in order for this to happen, Wong would need to leapfrog a bigger-named outfield prospect in Jake Bauers to get the call. Bauers has hit well to begin the season as well, slugging a team-leading 13 doubles to go along with five home runs and 23 RBI.
But, again the key word here just might be versatility. While Wong has only just started seeing time in the outfield, he could be plugged into multiple positions as situations merit. Kevin Cash loves that flexibility. It would not surprise me at all to see Kean Wong get a chance in the near future. And, like Field, it would be another player grown in the Rays system to emerge in the big leagues.