UPDATE: Wong Selected in Fourth Round of MLB Draft, Will Sign With TB
Waiakea High School graduate Kean Wong was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth round of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Wong was selected with the 128th overall pick.
The left-handed-hitting catcher got the phone call from the Rays organization while he was surrounded by family and friends at a draft party held at his house. The draft was not televised, but an online stream with analysis and audio from MLB’s conference call was made available at MLB.com.
“Once I got that call, I was excited,” said the newly-drafted Wong to ESPN 1420 in Honolulu Friday. “I was just jumping up for joy. It was always a dream to play pro ball, and once I got that chance, I just fell in love. Baseball is my everything.”
In the interview, Wong said that his dad, Kaha, received a call from the Rays’ area scout, informing him that they were interested in drafting Kean and letting them know that they would be calling his name a short time later.
Kaha Wong said to Big Island Now that Kean will not attend the University of Hawai`i and will sign with the Rays organization.
One of Kean’s priorities in the choice to skip college ball included being drafted in the top four rounds, saying “if I wasn’t in the top four, I was going to go to college.”
The other key factor was money. “I did get in the top four and I did get the money that I wanted,” Wong said. “It all worked out and I’m ready to play professional baseball.”
Wong’s signing bonus is right around the allocated money assigned to each draft pick. For Wong’s draft spot, the allocation is listed as $393,500. He could later be offered less than that amount, meaning some of that money could go to another pick. Or, the team could offer him more, signifying that money from another draft pick went to him to sweeten the deal.
The deal has yet to be signed. The Rays organization will send the paperwork over to Wong, and once a signature has been placed on the contract, the team can determine when and where Kean will play in the minor league system.
The fourth-round selection is slotted higher than some pre-draft projections indicated. Baseball America had listed Wong as the 219th best prospect in the country in their top 500 list. If the draft had gone according to those numbers, Wong would have been selected near the top of the seventh round.
Wong previously committed to the University of Hawai`i, where his brother Kolten played for three seasons. He is the second Rainbow Warrior recruit to be drafted. Blake Taylor, a left-handed pitcher, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in Thursday’s second round.
Kolten was initially drafted out of high school in the 16th round by the Minnesota Twins, but elected to attend the University of Hawai`i instead of going pro right away. Three years later, the decision paid off as the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the first round of the 2011 draft.
Kean Wong was the first Hawai`i-born player selected in this year’s draft. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a senior out of Mid-Pacific Institute, was selected two picks later by the Texas Rangers, also in the fourth round.