LOS ANGELES -- Connor Wong's profile might remind you of current Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes, and it should."That's exactly how we've seen him internally," said amateur scouting director Billy Gasparino, who took Wong in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft on Tuesday. "They are both smaller, agile,
LOS ANGELES -- Connor Wong's profile might remind you of current Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes, and it should.
"That's exactly how we've seen him internally," said amateur scouting director Billy Gasparino, who took Wong in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft on Tuesday. "They are both smaller, agile, athletic catchers, and Connor really has a plus throwing arm. We hope we can refine him behind the plate so he's as good as Barnes. He's an intelligent player and we're really excited to get him."
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
Both Barnes (Arizona State) and Wong (University of Houston) were college catchers after playing shortstop in high school, a versatility the Dodgers prioritize. They have similar body types: Wong at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Barnes at 5-foot-10 and 190. Both have basestealing speed.
They both even have baseball family ties. Wong's stepfather is Matt Maysey, a former Major Leaguer. Barnes' uncle is former Major Leaguer Mike Gallego.
"It's a cool story," said Gasparino. "I'm told they are very close and Connor relies on his stepfather for his baseball education."
Here's the pre-Draft Wong scouting report from MLBPipeline.com:
Wong started immediately at Houston as a freshman shortstop before making the transition to catching as a sophomore a year ago. He earned all-star honors behind the plate in the Cape Cod League last summer, leading the circuit with 72 total bases, and has upped his offensive production this spring. In a down year for catchers in the Draft, he should be one of the first selected and could climb as high as the third round.
Wong has a simple swing and he recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone well, so he should hit for a decent average. Though he's not very physical, he provides some sneaky power from the right side of the plate. His above-average speed may be his best pure tool, which is rare for a catcher, and he has the instincts to steal some bases as well.
Quick and athletic behind the plate, Wong still needs to polish his throwing and receiving but has the tools to be at least average in both regards. While he's strong for his size -- charitably listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds -- he's small for a catcher and there's some concern about whether he'll be able to handle the workload of a long pro season. If not, he fits the utility profile because he's capable of playing almost anywhere on the diamond.
Wong is the second catcher in as many years that the Dodgers have taken with a high pick. Last year, they drafted Will Smith from the University of Louisville with a supplemental first-round pick.
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 9 a.m. PT.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.