PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Kean Wong’s home state of Hawaii has had a significant influence on his life.
The Tampa Bay Rays fourth round pick in 2013 is hoping the kids growing up now will be able to say the same thing in the future.
Wong was born in Hilo, and attended Waiakea High School along with his older brother, Kolten (now with the St. Louis Cardinals). During the grand opening of the Hilo PONY Baseball League, the brothers, along with Hilo High School graduate Jodd Carter (now with AZL Indians, the Cleveland Indians Rookie team), were honoured for making pro ball.
“It was awesome, just to know that the Hilo community is looking after us,” said the second baseman. “We like to be role models to the kids in Hilo because Hilo is such a small town. … So it was fun putting Hilo on the map and hopefully some kids can do what we are doing today.”
Wong was named an all star with the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League after finishing last season with a .306 batting average, 24 runs batted in, and 13 stolen bases in 106 games.
He believes that with the baseball facility his father runs in Hilo aimed at training kids one on one, there will be more natives of Hawaii going pro soon.
Furthermore, athletes like Marcus Mariota, the last Heisman Trophy winner in college football have recently brought light to athletics in Hawaii. However, Wong believes that he and his brother, along with Carter and Mariota are only continuing a trend that had already begun.
“It kind of started with Kurt Suzuki and Shane Victorino, and we are just trying to follow in their footsteps,” said the young infielder. “Jodd is trying to follow in my footsteps and I’m trying to follow in Kolten’s footsteps.
“Hopefully we have kids that keep on following our footsteps and hopefully put Hawaii on the map.”
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