Former Oregon State middle infielder Joey Wong, known for his stellar defense, is now in the minor leagues in the Colorado Rockies organization. (Photo by Ethan Erickson)
Former Oregon State second baseman and shortstop Joey Wong, a 24th round selection of the Colorado Rockies, has started his career on Pasco, Washington with the Tri City Dust Devils, a Single-A affiliate of the Rockies. The Dust Devils play in the Northwest League that includes teams such as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Everett Aquasox, and the Eugene Emeralds.
Wong started his career with a 2-for-4 performance against the Boise Hawks, and ended up scoring the go-ahead run in the ninth inning. He went 2-for-3 in his second professional game against Boise, putting his batting average through two games at .517. In his next two games, however, Wong is a combined 0-for-6, giving him a .308 average in the professional ranks.
Wong recently completed his junior year with Oregon State, playing in 56 games, starting 55. He batted .255 with eight doubles, three triples, a home run and 30 runs batted in. Wong was 5-for-7 in stolen base attempts.The 56 games gives Wong 175 in his three years career at Oregon State, including 162 starts. Through the three years, Wong batted .262 with 20 doubles, five triples and six home runs. He was walked 80 times and collected 80 RBI. More on Joey's performance at Oregon State can be found here.
Now, please welcome in Joey Wong.
Jake, Building the Dam: First of all: It must feel great to finally be a professional baseball player.
Joey Wong: Yeah, it's great. And the organization has been great. The guys on the team are real fun to play with so it's going well.
Building the Dam: After you made your decision to go pro, a lot of people were saying that you should stick around to work on your offense. But, after two games in the minor leagues, you were 4-for-7 and hitting .517. It must have been a good for you to sort of initially disprove those rumors and get off to a good start.
Joey Wong: Yeah, it's been nice. I'm still working in the cages trying to work on hitting the ball more consistantly. I need to keep grinding and we have great coaching here so I'm sure I'll be able to start hitting better this summer.
Building the Dam: Would you say that your offense is the biggest thing you need to improve on?
Joey Wong: Oh, definitely, yeah. Obviously, I had my ups and downs at Oregon State. That's what I need to improve on and it should be fun to start being able to do that.
Building the Dam: How has the transition been so far? I know that you've played in the Cape Cod League with wood bats in past summers, so that must have helped to ease the transition.
Joey Wong: Yeah, It's just been kind of like a regular summer. After college ball finishes we go off and play in summer with wood bats. It hasn't been too tough of a transition so far, and I think it will be better for me now that I don't have to transition back and forth between metal and wood-- I just stay with wood and try to continue to get better.
Building the Dam: Has it helped that your dad played five years in the minor leagues?
Joey Wong: Oh yeah definitely. He told me coming in that it would be a lot different-- taking long bus rides and stuff like that. He's always been a great help for me and he's given some great advice. It makes it a lot easier for me to just come and play.
Building the Dam: I want to talk a little bit about Oregon State and what you leave behind. John Tommasini returns at second base, Carter Bell should be in the mix as well. What do you see happening next year in the middle infield at OSU?
Joey Wong: Carter came in late in the season and showed that he can play in the middle infield, and obviously John is a great defender and he'll be back. I'm sure that they're going to try to find the best bats to put up the middle but it's always been about playing great defense and having good pitching. I think Carter will be able to step in nicely and he'll get better in the offseason, and John is already a great defender so they should be right back on track as far as the way that Oregon State plays. With the pitching they have back it should be a real great year for them and hopefully they can get to Omaha.
Building the Dam: What's the process the coaches take with you at Oregon State when you are playing great defense but aren't coming through offensively? [MORE AFTER THE JUMP]
Joey Wong: It depends on who they have available to come in. Defense is a premium at Oregon State, but they're always looking for ways to score runs. So if you're not swinging it you never know when you're going to get pulled out of there. They always try to put bats in there but if you can play great defense you'll probably be in the lineup quite a bit.
Building the Dam: When you get into the minors, how much of the game is still a "team game" like college ball, and how much of it is about getting your stats to where you want them?
Joey Wong: I think that the competitiveness defintieyl comes out in everyone. We have a great team here and we're off to a good start. once the game gets going we're not thinking about anything but winning, but when the days' over you know that the only way yu're moving up is if you're playing well. I think once the first pitch is thrown it's all about winning. Everbody's not realyl worried abotu their stats and everything like that. So that's nice.
Building the Dam: Are the Rockies still looking at you long term at second base?
Joey Wong: I haven't really herad a whole lot. The scout that drafted me said that I would probably play short this summer, then after that they weren't really sure if I'd move over to second or stay at short. I'd be more than happy to do whatever they need to to. I'm very comfertable at both positions.
Building the Dam: Is there a difference to you playing at shortstop vs. second base?
Joey Wong: It doesn't really matter to me which one. They're definitely different positions when it comes to little things about playing both spots, but for me, as long as I'm playing, than either one is fine with me.
Thanks Joey for the time, and we wish you the best in the minor leagues!