Saints Solidify Middle of Infield with Re-Signing of Shortstop Joey Wong
ST. PAUL, MN - In 2015 the St. Paul Saints had one of the best middle of the infield defenses in franchise history with Dan Kaczrowski at second and Anthony Phillips at short. That team won a franchise record 74 games. The middle of the infield in 2019 may rival the 2015 version. With second baseman Josh Allen already re-joining the Saints for the season, George Tsamis added the shortstop that was a defensive vacuum during the final month of the season in 2018, re-signing Joey Wong.
The 30-year-old Wong joined the Saints on August 6 last season after an injury to Phillips. Wong did it both offensively and defensively. He hit .272 with a home run and 12 RBI in 26 games. In 81 at bats he scored 17 runs, had four doubles, a .385 on base percentage, and a .358 slugging percentage. More importantly, he came through in the clutch going 9-23 (.391) with runners in scoring position. He reached base safely in his first 13 games played with the Saints and scored a run in six straight from August 12-17. He was even bigger in the playoffs where he hit .320 and drove in five in eight playoff games. He reached base safely in all eight games. On the defensive side he committed just three errors in 113 chances, a .973 fielding percentage. He was perfect in the playoffs in 34 total chances.
Wong began the 2018 season in the Atlantic League with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs where he hit .239 with five RBI in 18 games. It wasn't long after his time in Maryland that the New York Mets came calling and purchased his contract in late May where he played 42 games between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. Between the two stops he hit .196 with nine RBI. More importantly he had a .975 fielding percentage in 30 games at shortstop.
During his 10-year career in affiliated ball Wong has an impressive .980 fielding percentage in 145 games at second, .971 fielding percentage in 180 games at third, and an incredible .976 fielding percentage in 460 games at short. For context, his .9763 fielding percentage at short would put him tied for 38th all-time in Major League Baseball, one spot ahead of Derek Jeter (.9762).
Wong was a 24th round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2009 out of Oregon State. He spent eight seasons in the Rockies organization and played 70 games at Low-A Tri-City following the draft and hit .215 with 17 RBI. He led the league in being hit by a pitch, 13, and was the best fielding shortstop, with a .985 fielding percentage. He also led all shortstops in total chances (342), putouts (118), assists (219), and double plays (51). His team reached the playoffs and lost in the Championship Series three-games-to-one to Salem-Keizer.
In 2010 Wong moved up to Single-A Asheville where he hit .223 with three homers and 32 RBI in 84 games. In 273 at bats he scored 33 runs, ripped 15 doubles, had a .296 on base percentage, and a .311 slugging percentage.
Wong had a career year in 2011 at Asheville hitting .286 with six homers and 55 RBI, all career highs. In 101 games he scored 43 runs, smacked a career high 20 doubles, with a .353 on base percentage, and a .408 slugging percentage. He hit a home run in back-to-back games on July 18 and 21, the lone time in his career he has accomplished the feat.
After an injury plagued 2012 in which Wong played in 47 games between Tri-City, Asheville, and High-A Modesto, where he hit .240 with a home run and 20 RBI between the three levels, he spent all of 2013 at Double-A Tulsa. While with the Drillers, Wong hit .240 with two homers and 19 RBI in 92 games. In 279 at bats he scored 26 runs, crushed 17 doubles, one triple, with a .304 on base percentage, and a .330 slugging percentage. His team made the playoffs, but they were swept in the semi-finals by the Arkansas Travelers.
Wong returned to Tulsa in 2014 and hit .221 with a home run and 17 RBI in 83 games. His team once again made the playoffs and this time they got their revenge on Arkansas knocking them out in the semi-finals before losing in Game 5 of a best-of-five Texas League Finals against the Midland RockHounds.
In 2015 Wong began the season at Triple-A Albuquerque before going on the disabled list for two months with a hamstring injury in early May. In 77 games between Albuquerque, his rehab assignment in Boise, and Double-A New Britain, Wong hit .248 with 23 RBI.
Wong played all of 2016 at Triple-A with Albuquerque and hit .233 with a home run and 28 RBI in 91 games. In 258 at bats he scored 26 runs, had 11 doubles, two triples, with a .343 on base percentage, and a .302 slugging percentage.
At the end of the 2016 season Wong became a free agent and signed with the Seattle Mariners organization where he began the season at Double-A Arkansas. He hit .241 with two home runs and 29 RBI in 118 games. In 390 at bats he scored a career high 62 runs, hammered 10 doubles, one triple, walked a career high 66 times, had a career high .360 on base percentage, and a .287 slugging percentage. He set a career high with a 12-game hit streak from June 7-17. Wong led the league with a remarkable .980 fielding percentage at short and was tied for third in walks. He was also tops at shortstop in assists (343). On August 22 Wong was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma where he played 12 games and hit .222 with a home run and five RBI.
In his career Wong has struck out just 16.1% of the time, considered above average. An average strikeout rate is 20%. He has also walked an above average 10.2% of the time.
Wong won a College World Series title at Oregon State as a junior and he was named to the All-Tournament Team after he went 7-19 (.368). He was originally selected in the 46th round of the 2006 June Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros out of Sprague (OR) High School, but elected to go to Oregon State.
Wong played three seasons in the Australian Winter League and won back-to-back titles with the Perth Heat in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 season. He also won two Gold Gloves while in Australia.
In 2017 Wong represented Team China in the World Baseball Classic where he went 2-10.
The Saints have signed five players this off-season.
P Eddie Medina
INF Josh Allen
INF Devon Rodriguez
INF Joey Wong
OF Max Murphy
The Saints begin the 2019 season with a 10-game homestand. Opening Day is Thursday, May 16 at 7:05 p.m. against the newest member of the Milwaukee Milkmen.
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American Association Stories from March 18, 2019
- Explorers Re-Sign Big Bat for 2019 - Sioux City Explorers
- T-Bones Have a Busy Spring Break - Kansas City T-Bones
- Saints Solidify Middle of Infield with Re-Signing of Shortstop Joey Wong - St. Paul Saints
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