After some relatively close votes in our recent rounds of voting for our community top prospect list, we had a bonafide blowout this time around. One of the newest prospects in the system, this guy has been getting a fair amount of support lately, and this time he was put over the top. We’re talking about Connor Wong, who comes in at number 13 on our list (number 12 if Jeter Downs is counted as number 0 since he came into the system after voting began) and got a full two-thirds of the vote.
Wong headed to the University of Houston after high school, spending his college days pretty much at home, right outside where he went to high school in Pearland, Texas. He entered UH as an infielder, but shifted to catcher and spent most of his time there, though he did move around the diamond both as a Cougar and in his couple of years in the Cape Cod League. After a big junior year at Houston in which he showed more power than ever, Wong had his draft status vaulted and was eventually picked with a third round selection by the Dodgers in the 2017 draft.
Los Angeles was fairly aggressive with the catching prospect in that first pro summer, giving him one at bat in the complex league out in Arizona (he struck out) before bumping him up to full-season A-Ball in the Midwest League to finish off the year. He only got in 27 games, but he certainly held his own there hitting .278/.336/.495 with five homers.
That was enough for Wong, who was heading into his age-22 season already for his first full year as a professional, to get pushed up to High-A to begin the season. The numbers looked good for him there — he hit .269/.350/.480 over 102 games and 431 plate appearances — but remember that the leagues out west are a bit different. Specifically, the PCL and the Cal League, the latter of which Wong was in, are hitters’ havens. He was still very good, to be fair, but numbers in that league are certainly cause for a little more pause than others.
As the 2019 season got underway, he actually ended up repeating the High-A level, which is a bit surprising even given the context of the Cal League. He took a bit of a step back there, too, hitting .245/.306/.507 over 71 games. The power did take a step forward, though, and he eventually got a call-up to Double-A for the latter portion of the year. Power partially by a .467 batting average on balls in play in 41 games, Wong hit .349/.393/.604 in Tulsa, ending his year on a high note and giving some helium to his game. Obviously, he was then traded to the Red Sox organization earlier this month in the Mookie Betts trade.
As far as the scouting goes, Wong is a pretty stereotypical 2020 player. That is to say, he is not totally a three true outcomes (strikeouts, walks, home runs) player, but there’s a lot of that in his game. The hit tool is the biggest question, as is made evident by every scouting report as well as him putting up a strikeout rate of at least 30 percent at every level he’s played the last two years. On the flip side, he can make up for some of that with his power. The raw power is above average, which is great for a catcher in particular, but that aforementioned hit tool doesn’t let him tap into all of that. If he doesn’t make more contact, the power won’t play as much against advanced pitching. Wong also moves better than most catchers on the bases.
Speaking of that whole catcher thing, another very modern-day attribute for the 23-year-old (he’ll be 24 in May) is that he isn’t just limited to playing behind the dish. Wong’s still a bit raw as a catcher on the defensive side of things, but I get the sense most are confident he’d be able to stick back there on a regular basis if the bat allowed it. Don’t expect a Gold Glove caliber defender, though. However, what’s more likely is that he is something of a utility man who plays catcher, like Austin Barnes, another Dodgers catcher. Wong has played second and third base as a professional as well.
Wong is expected to head to Portland to start the 2020 season, and watching where he plays defensively on a daily basis is going to be interesting. More important, though, will be his contact and strikeout rates. If Wong does play well, he could get a promotion up to Triple-A later in the year with an eye on making his major-league debut at some point in 2021.
Here is our list so far:
1A. Jeter Downs
1B. Triston Casas
2. Bobby Dalbec
3. Bryan Mata
4. Noah Song
6. Jay Groome
7. Jarren Duran
8. Thad Ward
9. Tanner Houck
10. Matthew Lugo
11. C.J. Chatham
12. Connor Wong
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...