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.