The Tampa Bay Rays designated Kean Wong for assignment. The 24-year-old has spent most of his time in the field at second base, but he’s also played some third, left, right, and center in the minor leagues. He was a 4th round draft pick of the Rays in 2013 out of high school. He’s the brother of Cardinals Kolten Wong.

In 2019 he made his Major League debut and played in six games this season. He went 3-14 in that span – all three hits were singles. But he did play in 113 games in Triple-A this season. With Durham he hit .307/.375/.464 with 29 doubles, 6 triples, and 10 home runs. In his 506 plate appearances he had 42 walks and 112 strikeouts. It was his third straight season in Triple-A and he’s put up better numbers in each year, improving his OPS from .688 in 105 games there at 22-years-old to .839 this past season.

In each of the last two years in Triple-A Kean Wong’s had decent home/road splits with an OPS about 90 points higher at home than on the road. That wasn’t the case in 2017 in the same ballpark. Much like the home/road splits, he’s got some platoon splits, too. The left-handed hitter had a .322/.368/.491 line against right-handed pitchers this season. Against lefties he held his own, posting a .265/.376/.381 line. Historically he’s always been stronger against righties and usually by a solid margin.

On the surface, Kean Wong has lacked power for his entire minor league career. He’s play in six full seasons, and one half-season the year in which he was drafted. That’s good for 3064 total plate appearances, and he’s hit a total of 32 home runs in his career. His power has come up in the last two seasons at Triple-A. This year stands out some because the baseball is juiced and we all know that. But it went up last season, too, and the baseball wasn’t juiced then. On one hand you want to say that’s a good sign. On the other, he hit one more home run this season than last, and had 4 more trips to the plate. The power output increased thanks to 6 more doubles and 3 more triples.

For a guy who’s not much of a power hitter he’s struck out quite a bit in Triple-A. Over the last two years he’s had a 22.2% strikeout rate. That rate is perfectly fine if you provide some danger with the bat. But if you’re going to be a guy who isn’t hitting the ball over the fence you want that rate to be significantly lower.

With that all said, could he improve the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster? Is he worth picking up and taking a look at? I guess that one is up to you. It’s tough to see a role he’d fill without drastic improvements at the plate. He’s got some position versatility, but all of the spots he could fill can already be filled by guys who at least to this point have proven to be far better hitters.

At 25 next year there is still time to see improvements made, and if your scouts tell you they think they can get more out of his bat, maybe you’ll listen and take a chance on him. The price of acquisition if he makes it to you on the waiver wire is going to be small. You’ll need to clear a spot on the 40-man, but with 6 games remaining on the season making one now instead of after the year is likely inconsequential.

16 Responses

  1. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Minor league contract maybe. No commitment until you see what you have, what you can still get, etc.

  2. Rut

    The Rays know what they are doing… wouldn’t think their trash becomes our treasure.

    Odder things have occured, but don’t think he would be better than in house options, especially if Senzel could move back to 2b after shoulder surgery (though that is idle speculation at this stage).

  3. Joey

    Hard to tell. The Reds have a history of looking in all the Wong places.

  4. Mason Red

    Instead of suggesting adding more players who have been released or who are on the waiver wire,how about suggesting the Reds actually add players who are actually successful? Or is that totally out of the realm of possibility by this franchise?? You simply can’t build a winner by having a team built on castoffs.

    • Eric Wormus

      It’s amazing the Reds strategy of “take the players that good teams don’t want” hasn’t panned out.

  5. James H.

    Is he better than what the Reds will have available and what the Reds have in their international signings in which they’re heavily invested? The Reds could probably bring Scooter back on the cheap side until their options develop from the current 40man roster and minors.

  6. Don

    Reds already have a 24 year old left handed hitting 2nd baseman on their roster.

    JVM had much better numbers across the board in AAA this year in comparison to Wong.

    No please NO. Do not give Bell another option to not play JVM at 2nd base.

  7. Colorado Red

    Who would they DFA if they picked him up.
    Would it be a net gain or loss.
    At this point, I would say NO.

  8. Charles) Lackey

    I have thought of this in the past. Why do the Reds sign cast off players, those coming off injuries etc….? Try getting real good players and yes the Reds have the money to get top players !!!!

  9. Doug Gray

    And it’s all for naught. He didn’t even make it to the National League on the waiver wire. He was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United State of Earth.

  10. redsfanhelpme

    Yay he got claimed!!! Tired of continuing to throw mud at the wall and see what stick!!!!

  11. Dave

    The Reds have been good, as they have rebuilt, at adding high-minors, MLB depth and even quality (Scooter, Galvis, Gausmann, Casali, Iglesias). Part of that reason is that they have paid for it.

    But they cannot be picking these guys up next season with the hope of contending. It is helpful to have players with small but positive WAR on your bench. It is not helpful to have them become starters. They need two impact bats, at least, among the starting 8. Those bats will be playing something other than corner infield.