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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Connor Wong finishes off the list

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The catcher is number 20.

Connor Wong
Kelly O’Connor

Somehow, some way, we have reached the end of our prospect voting series. In an organization that is known for developing offense, and a system whose top tier is dominated by position players, it was actually the pitching grabbing a slight 11-9 edge in the overall top-20, largely by dominating the middle section of the list. But, to end things we go back to the position players. Coming in at number 20 is Connor Wong, who received 38 percent of the vote.

Wong has been a really interesting player going back to his college days, which he spent at the University of Houston. At the time, he started his career there as a shortstop before mixing in some action behind the plate as his career moved on. That kind of rare versatility was what originally attracted him to the Dodgers, who selected him with their third round pick back in 2017.

In that first summer after being drafted, Los Angeles thought enough of Wong to push him up to A-Ball right at the outset after just one at bat on the complex. He handled himself well in that initial test, hitting .278/.336/.495 for an above-average line over his first 107 plate appearances as a pro. They would continue to push him along to High-A from there, and he continued to hit as he moved up the ladder. In his first full season after being drafted, Wong hit .269/.350/.480.

In part due to some strikeout issues that were still present despite the above-average production, and in part due to the incredible depth in the Dodgers organization, Wong did head back to High-A for the start of 2019 season as well. The strikeouts did not subside, but he did continue to show more power than ever before. He ended up playing 71 games in High-A for his second time at the level, hitting .245/.306/.507. That was enough to get the call up to Double-A for the final portion of that summer, and he hit better than ever in that short stint. It was only 163 plate appearances and it was boosted by a .467 batting average on balls in play, but he hit .349/.393/.604.

We are pretty familiar with what has happened with Wong’s career since then. The catching prospect was sent to Boston in the Mookie Betts deal, coming in as the third piece in that trade. He is certainly not as well-regarded as Alex Verdugo or Jeter Downs, but he has done nothing but hit as a pro. Of course, he never got a chance to build off that success at Double-A after the minor-league season was shut down last year. He did, however, get to participate at the Alternate Site all summer, as well as Fall Instructs. He’s also gotten some playing time here and there this spring, where he’s shown off some of his power.

And it’s the power that really stands out in his game more than anything else. This is something of a theme in the Red Sox organization, both in the major-league lineup as well as scattered through the middle tiers of their farm system. Now, Wong doesn’t have Dalbec-ian raw power, to be clear. It’s above-average, but considering he’s a catcher it might as well be Dalbec-ian. The issue is he gets to that power with a big, pull-heavy swing that results in a whole lot of strikeouts. Over his two full seasons in the minors, he struck out over 30 percent of the time consistently across stints with three clubs. He’s been able to put up high BABIPs, though it’s reasonable to be skeptical about that carrying over to the majors.

What makes Wong extra interesting is the defensive profile. He is nominally a catcher, and that is clearly his most valuable position since it’s the most valuable position on the diamond. However, I mentioned at the top he started his college career as a shortstop. He doesn’t play there anymore, but he will play in the infield. Wong has played both third and second as a pro, and should be able to play some corner outfield as well if given some time. His defense behind the dish is fine, too. He probably won’t win any Gold Gloves back there, but it’s not the kind of defense that has to move off the position any time soon. So for all of the flaws offensively with his swing and miss, he makes up for that with a unique ability to be a super utility player who can play infield, outfield (potentially, at least), and catcher.

What the Red Sox do with Wong should be interesting to see. It would make the most sense to get him back at Double-A to start the season, but that also makes the most sense for fellow catcher Ronaldo Hernández. Portland is where Sox Prospects has both of them slated, and I tend to agree, though one of them going to Worcester wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world. Wherever he starts, I’m excited to see Wong start his Red Sox career, and I’m excited to see how they utilize his defensive versatility.

Here is our full list:

  1. Triston Casas
  2. Jeter Downs
  3. Bryan Mata
  4. Jarren Duran
  5. Gilberto Jimenez
  6. Noah Song
  7. Bobby Dalbec
  8. Tanner Houck
  9. Connor Seabold
  10. Aldo Ramirez
  11. Thad Ward
  12. Jay Groome
  13. Nick Yorke
  14. Ronaldo Hernández
  15. Blaze Jordan
  16. Brayan Bello
  17. Eduard Bazardo
  18. Chris Murphy
  19. Garrett Whitlock
  20. Connor Wong

Thank you for following along and participating over the last couple of months as we made our way through the list. All of the links on the list above will take you to the write up for each individual player in case you missed them. We’ll be back with you in May for the daily Minor Lines write ups.