Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hawaii's Finest Redbird

It's a warm Sunday out here in Raleigh after a cold and snow last week.  We are ill-equipped for winter weather around these parts and I would love love to flip over another page or two on the calendar at this point and just get to spring.  The warm weather today also has me thinking of Spring Training and is making me a little bit eager for the start of the baseball season.  It seems there are a lot of other baseball fans and collectors also gearing up.  While we are still waiting for the official start of spring and baseball I have a few new cards on their way in this week.  

I spent this past week working on the new Topps release and have already started to fill in some holes.  I kind of assumed that I was not going to be lucky enough to snag a Kolten Wong autograph out of my box of Topps, so I went ahead and bought one ahead of time.  It arrived yesterday:

2014 Topps Trajectory Kolten Wong Autograph

Most people will remember Kolten Wong for getting picked off of first base to end Game 5 of last year's World Series, but the future is actually pretty bright for him.  The Cardinals had been playing Matt Carpenter, a natural third baseman, at second last year since the team had David Freese manning third.  Freese continued to decline and Wong continued to impress in the minors.  Last season in Triple A Memphis the second baseman out of Hawaii posted a .303/.369/.466 line with 39 extra base hits (10 homers) in 107 games.  Wong struggled at the Major league level, but was also not given a chance to play consistently by the Cardinals.  

Since the end of last season the Cardinals have traded away David Freese to the Angels and shifted Matt Carpenter back to third clearing a space for Wong on the infield.  The Cardinals seem like they are going to make him the starting second baseman, but the team has also signed Mark Ellis...just in case.  

Wong will also be one of only five active players from Hawaii next year.  There have only been a grand total of 38 in the history of the game, so Wong's emergence has been pretty well followed back in his home state.  An internet search of Wong's name yields dozens of articles about his trek through baseball and some of the milestones.  For example, he was the first ever Hawaiian player to be selected in the first round of the baseball draft.  The press in Hawaii even covered his infamous pickoff and put a positive spin on the play by noting that Wong stood by his locker and answered all the press questions.  

I am eager for the season to start and eager to see what Kolten Wong will bring the Cardinals at second base.  I am hoping to see lots of good press coming out of Wong's home state about his great play.  Maybe some of the newspapers and television stations should call ahead for All-Star game credentials.  Okay, I am getting ahead of myself. 

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