At 5-foot-9, Kolten Wong has an edge about him that is reminiscent of diminutive Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The 22-year-old Wong does not look like the prototypical pure athlete that scouts look for, but all he does is produce at the plate and provide solid defense in the field.
A first round pick (22nd overall) of the St. Louis Cardinals out of the University of Hawaii in 2011 and a Futures Game participant earlier this summer, Wong tops the list of second base prospects in the Major Leagues. The Cardinals hope that he will end their revolving door at the position.
“Everyone has that prototypical player, 6-foot-3, pure athlete. I wasn’t that, but what I had was I could play all aspects of the game,” Wong told MLB.com. “I had decent speed, I can hit, I can throw. And I know the game inside and out.
“If someone had the same talent as me, I knew I was smarter than them on the field, I knew what to do in any situation,” he added. “It comes back to my dad and being a young kid and his drilling it into my brain all these things of what to do in different situations.”
Here is a look at the top five second base prospects in the majors:
After Wong was drafted, he asked the club if he could bypass rookie league and short season ball and head directly to the Midwest League in low Single-A. St. Louis granted the request, and Wong responded by hitting .335 with five home runs, 15 RBI and a .911 OPS in 194 at-bats in 2011.
This year, he sprinted past advanced Single-A and opened the season at Double-A Springfield, where he has a .284 average with eight home runs, 46 RBI, four triples and 21 stolen bases in 450 at-bats.
Delino DeShields Jr., Astros
The eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, DeShields’ 2011 season was forgettable. At low Single-A Lexington, he hit .220 with a .627 OPS, though he did swipe 30 bases.
The confident 20 year old set lofty goals for 2012, including 75 steals, 85 runs and a .280 average. DeShields met and exceeded those numbers, earning a promotion in the process. At Lexington, he batted .298 with 10 home runs, 52 RBI, 22 doubles, five triples, 96 runs and 83 stolen bases.
He was recently called up to advanced Single-A Lancaster in the California League, where he has a .360 average in 25 at-bats.
The 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Indian River Community College in Florida, Spangenberg signed early and tallied 121 plate appearances at rookie league Eugene (where he hit .384) and .286 in 209 plate appearances at Single-A Fort Wayne.
This season, at advanced Single-A Lake Elsinore, the left-handed hitter who is know for generating a high average and on-based percentage has a .282 average and 25 steals in 355 plate appearances.
He spent time on the DL earlier in the year with concussion-like symptoms after getting hit on the side of the head.
A fourth round pick out by the Twins of a Puerto Rico High School in 2010, the 20-year-old Rosario was hit in the face by a line drive and was sidelined from June 12 through July 31.
When he has been healthy, he has posted impressive numbers, including a .305 average, a .855 OPS, nine home runs, 55 RBI and 25 doubles in 347 plate appearances at Single-A Beloit.
His transition from center field to second base has gone well so far.
A supplemental first rounder out of high school in 2007, the 23-year-old Culberson was acquired from San Francisco for Marco Scutaro before last month’s non-waiver trade deadline.
Culberson struggled at Triple-A Fresno in the Giants system this year, batting .236 with 10 home runs, 53 RBI and a .679 OPS. He also made his Major League debut, recording a .136 average (3-for-22).
Since joining Triple-A Colorado Springs, Culberson is batting .302 in 53 at-bats.