(Baseball StL) -- If Daniel Descalso represents the incumbency and Matt Carpenter the bright shiny object set to challenge him immediately, Kolten Wong must represent something altogether different.
When the Cards selected the Hawaii alum in the 1st round of the 2011 MLB draft, it signified a size-able change at the second base position. For years the Redbirds had gone year to year at that spot. Tony Womack here, Mark Grudzielanek there. Adam Kennedy offered a chance at stability but ultimately failed. As did Skip Schumaker.
So here we are in 2013 and, still, this franchise hasn’t had a true long term second baseman since Fernando Vina roamed that area many moons ago.
Kolten Wong is supposed, er expected, to change that course.
He makes his first Grapefruit League start this afternoon after coming off the bench in the previous two games. Thus far in spring training, Wong is 0-2 and looking to make a dynamite impression on the major league staff.
He’s got a short, compact swing that allows him to get to pitches many other hitters cannot reach. A .324 batting average in the Arizona Fall League can attest to that.
Where Wong begins this season isn’t a source of much intrigue this year. Where he finishes - and how much playing time he receives - is. Expected to go to AAA-Memphis, the middle infielder can push his competition at the big league level by doing what he’s always done.
From there it’s out of his hands. A fine defender, Descalso is attempting to prove he’s a better hitter than his .227 average in 2012 indicates. Should he succeed in that department, it could delay a need for Wong.
Then there’s Carpenter. How adept will he become at second base? How much will that translate to actual starts during the regular season?
All of this, plus Wong’s performance in Memphis, will factor into when the torch officially gets passed onto the 5’9” Hawaii native. Worst case scenario would probably be next year. Best case - or earliest case, I should say - is hard to gauge.
Service time as it relates to eventual arbitration eligibility and free agency might come into play. In English, the Cardinals could elect to keep Wong in the minors so they delay starting his clock. The sooner he’s a big leaguer, the sooner he’s arbitration eligible and makes more money. You get the point.
Whether it’s this May or April 2014, Kolten Wong might provide something this organization has not seen in years.
Kolten Wong featured in Springfield Cardinals video: Watch clip