07/21/2010 12:42 PM
ORLEANS ---- It’s the quiet before the storm. The bat rests on his back shoulder and there is little movement in his stance. As the pitch is delivered, the bat rises a bit and then Kolten Wong (Hawai’i) lashes out and rips a single up the middle.
Just another at-bat for the talented left-handed hitting infielder from Hawaii.
If you have seen him play, you have witnessed one of the most exciting players in the Cape Cod League. If you haven’t, clear your schedule and make sure you get a chance to watch No. 10 perform for the Firebirds.
“You can come to the ballpark and see him leading off and it might be a home run, it might be a double down the line,” Orleans field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “He might drag or push (bunt) and steal a base, and steal another base and then steal another base. He stole home earlier this year.”
There have been many different phrases used to describe the way Wong plays the game. He has been described as electric, a must-see, a fun kid to watch and a kid that people would pay to see play someday. Wong learned at an early age that every day is a new opportunity to impress someone, and that’s the mindset he takes to the field every day.
“My dad told me since I was a little kid, every single game you are going to have someone watching you,” he said. “Try and make them impressed as much as you make everyone else. I just go out there and try to show everyone a different part of my game every day.”
He has certainly impressed so far. If his excitement for the game and his intensity were not enough, his play on the field has spoken for itself. Through the first 30 games, he leads the league in hits (38), average (.352) and is second in home runs (3). He is also tied for third in stolen bases with 17 and has made just three errors in 113 chances.
“Our old hitting coach Rob Gore said baseball is about getting on base and scoring runs,” Nicholson said. “And Kolten does a really good job of that.”
But for a while, it looked like the Cape League would not be blessed with Wong’s play. He was invited to tryout for Team USA, which he played for last year, and had not made up his mind where to go by the start of the summer. He decided to come to Orleans for the first few weeks of the season and then make his decision. Happy with what he saw here, he decided to stay.
“I was ecstatic,” Nicholson said. “I talked to Kolten before and told him that it would be a good summer here in Orleans for him if he did stay, with the opportunity to play in Fenway Park if he made the all-star team.”
Wong’s decision fulfills a lifelong dream.
“I figured I played on Team USA last year and I’ve always wanted to play on the Cape,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I have been a little kid.”
But playing for his country is something he will never forget.
“It is something that has humbled me,” he said. “Playing the best of the best. A majority of the guys I played with last year were first-round draft picks. It has really shown me what I need to do to get up to par with those guys.”
If Wong continues to play the way he has this summer, he may also find himself drafted in the first round next year. For now, he has his eyes set on the pitchers of the Cape League and a batting race with Brewster’s Drew Martinez (Memphis).
“I’m just another teammate,” he said. “I want to help the team win and help Orleans get back to the championship (game).