He reached out, leaned into it, and watched with the crowd as the ball, hit at 107 miles per hour, flew far past the walls of LoanMart Field. It was a towering shot to deep left-center field, but, one home run was not good enough as it would later get company from a second big fly later in the game. For Dodgers catching prospect, Connor Wong, this incredible night was just one of many in a young 2018 season; a season that has acted as a coming out party for the young star.
But, more than statistics, long home runs, and praise from his manager, Connor Wong, like most players, comes with a story worth telling.
A shortstop growing up, Connor Wong was a good player, skilled defensively with a smooth swinging and contact-oriented bat. Talented as he was, Connor Wong chose to attend College instead of pursuing his professional career and it would be a decision that would help him forever.
In his first season at the University of Houston, Wong was a shortstop. At a lean six feet and one inch tall, Wong was built to play shortstop and scouting reports would say that his defense there was very good.
But, in his second year of college, the coaching staff at Houston made a career-altering decision to move Connor to catcher, a move that would get him drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 2017 amateur draft.
Wong was drafted for his bat, sure, a bat that hit in the upper .280’s in his senior year and also hit 12 home runs. But, the main driving force behind his selection was his athleticism and versatility. The versatility that his current manager, Drew Saylor, would describe as a focal point in the 21-year old’s development:
“Connor Looked good at second base and I really think that going to be a focus for us as an organization going forward.”
It is versatility that Wong possesses that has allowed him to play both catcher, his most common position, and second base in his professional career. Wong too, knows very well that his ability to move around the diamond could be a factor that propels him in front of other Dodger catching prospects, of which there are many:
“Being versatile helps me get out on the field even if there’s a guy that’s better than me at a certain position. Versatility gets you out there every day and that’s what counts in the end.”
I bright player he is, and that mental sharpness is something that his not only contributed to his success defensively but also his offensive production.
Wong has been a superstar at the plate and there is no doubt that his success there is what has propelled him into the early season spotlight. Dodger fans who may not ever follow the minor leagues have heard of Connor Wong and it is his power, something that he has never been known
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for, that they are noticing.
In his first 10 games of the season, Connor has hit .350 with five home runs, a mark that is tied for the High-A lead in 2018. Along with his home run count, Wong has collected 12 RBIs five of which came in one outstanding game.
His mentality at the plate was the catalyst behind his uptick in power and according to him, it has made all the difference in the world:
“I am swinging at pitches I can handle rather than pitches I can hit. I’m really working to drive the ball early in the count rather than let the pitcher get ahead and try to catch up to him.”
A profound statement from a young player.
Is it early in the season? Yes. But, if you take into consideration Connor’s words and just how on top of his game he really is, it is not hard to tell that the young catcher is the real deal. He can play across the diamond, he can hit home runs or get on base, and most importantly, he is a leader.
He made the all-prospect team of the week in the second week of the season and there is no telling how much more he can do in a whole year. If I was you, I would watch out for the versatile and powerful, Connor Wong.