Kolten Wong, the St. Louis Cardinals' first pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, officially signed with the team Sunday, heading off a week filled with hastily denied rumors and arriving in time to watch the Cardinals' 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Busch Stadium. Wong will receive a signing bonus of $1.3 million and report to full season ball with the Quad Cities River Bandits of the low-A Midwest League, a suitably aggressive assignment for a college star like Wong, a Hawaii product who impressed the Cardinals when he succeeded in the wood-bat Cape Cod League.
Wong is expected to move quickly through the Cardinals system, and the team hopes he combines adequate defense at second base with his already-impressive plate discipline and contact hitting. Wong hit .378 in college ball last year while holding his power numbers steady, despite the deadening of NCAA bats prior to the 2011 season, and was seen as one of the surer bets in the latter half of the first round.
The Cardinals' last first-round pick was Zack Cox, another advanced college hitter who required considerably more time and money to sign; he's already in the AA Texas League, although he's struggling mightily there. If Wong succeeds in his limited time with the Quad Cities he could follow that same career path.