The Los Angeles Angels Claim Kean Wong

The Los Angeles Angels acquired second base prospect Kean Wong off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and transferred Griffin Canning to the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move.

Wong was removed from Tampa Bay’s roster on Sunday, simply due to the fact that, aside from maybe outfielder Johnny Davis, there were no other legitimate alternatives, as their roster is so talented. The 24-year-old second baseman is coming off a rather successful season in Triple A in which he slashed .307/.375/.464 (.839 OPS) over 506 plate appearances. He also managed to hit 29 doubles, six triples, and 10 home runs to go along with 63 RBIs and six stolen bases. This led to his first major league call-up in which he struggled over a limited sample size, going 3-for-14 with one run scored over six games.  Based on the small sample size, these numbers should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, as should his 0-for-4 Thursday night Angels debut.

While Wong has long been overshadowed in the Rays’ loaded minor-league system due to a lack of flashy tools, he has drawn at least average marks in all five tools. He has shown a reasonably strong contact ability with the potential for 10-15 home runs as well as 10-15 stolen bases. Furthermore, his strikeout rates are slightly below average, typically ranging from 15-20 percent.

The Angels acquire Wong with six seasons of team control and three minor-league options remaining giving them plenty of flexibility with the young infielder. It doesn’t seem likely that the Angels will replace David Fletcher at the cornerstone anytime soon, but they could use Wong in a super utility capacity based on his ability to play the outfield and third base.

I would be surprised to see Wong hit waivers again in the offseason, as he carries everyday player upside. My projections have him slashing .263/.318/.384 (.701 OPS) with 162-game rates of 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases. The addition of the 26-man roster will certainly work in his favor this spring, and he could see some substantial major-league time in 2020. I would consider Wong’s realistic best-case scenario as an everyday starter at either second base or left field, carrying WAR’s in the 2-4 range and his worst-case scenario struggling in the majors and winding up as a Quad-A player. That being said, I believe that he would be more likely to wind up having a career similar to that of his new teammate, Tommy La Stella.

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