Drawing inspiration from his brother, Hawaii’s Kean Wong hoping to master defense in climb back to MLB


Kean Wong

Kean Wong reached the major leagues with his bat. He’s now trying to get back to the show with his glove.

The 2013 Waiakea graduate, who turned pro that same year after getting selected in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB Draft, is a career .289 hitter in the minor leagues with 35 home runs.

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After briefly appearing in the majors in the 2019 season for both the Rays and Los Angeles Angels, Wong was a part of the San Francisco Giants organization in 2020 but did not play in an official game after the minor league season was canceled.

“After the pandemic season, I went home. The Giants let me go home,” Wong told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “I worked with my dad throughout the whole pandemic just to be able to work on my defense. They always knew I could hit. You could always see the numbers and knew I could hit but just defensive-wise, I wanted to sharpen that tool up and nothing better than talking to Kolten and my dad about it. Kolten’s a two-time gold glover so I worked with him a lot when he came home and was telling myself to play like this is my last season, give it everything I’ve got and it’s working out right now.

Hopefully the team has seen it, hopefully I get a chance. But if not, I’m just gonna keep on going and hopefully next year I get a chance.”

Wong is back with the Angels in 2021 and is currently playing for the Salt Lake Bees, the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate. He’s currently hitting a scalding .368 with three home runs in 68 at-bats and has flashed improved defensive play at second base, just as he intended entering the offseason last year.

“Going out there, nothing’s a better feeling than going out there and making a play for your pitcher,” Wong said. “They’re out there busting their butt, so why not help them out by making spectacular plays? I always wanted to be like Kolten. His defensive gems are awesome, everyone’s seen it and he’s a role model to me, I’m pretty sure he’s a role model to everyone in Hawaii. Defense has never been something for me, I’ve always been like an offensive guy. But this year, I want to show that I can play defense, too. That’s what I’m doing and it’s working out with hitting and defense. Hopefully the team’s seeing it.”

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