MLB: Hilo’s Kean Wong gets call to Rays; 0 for 2 in debut

  • JARED FUJISAKI photo Kean Wong, a 2013 Waiakea graduate, joins his brother Kolten in the big leagues.

It wasn’t the debut that he wanted, but Kean Wong reached the big leagues after seven years in the minors.

Before Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jay, the Tampa Bay Rays selected Wong’s contract from Triple-A Durham.

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Wong played second base and batted 0 for 2 with two strikeouts against right-hander Trent Thornton in the Rays’ 6-4 win before just 5,962 fans at Tropicana Field.

He learned of the promotion on Wednesday after the Bulls’ playoff win.

“It was a dream come true for me, and I’m blessed,” he said in a story on mlb.com.

In 113 games with Durham, Wong has career highs in homers (10) and OPS (.839).

Wong said he never doubted he’d be in the majors, but once he stepped into the Rays’ clubhouse the moment hit him.

“Honestly, I was good until I came into the clubhouse, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a big leaguer.’ But before that, I was just calling my family and like I said, I just feel blessed,” he told mlb.com.

He said he called his brother Kolten Wong.

“He was happy,” Kean Wong said. “That’s what I was striving for ever since I was a little kid, and just to see my dreams come true. He was happy for me.”

Their dad Kaha Wong was at his batting cage and planned to fly out Thursday night and attend Friday’s game against the Blue Jays.

The small-market Rays, who are last in MLB payroll, don’t have any middle infielder signed beyond 2020, except for Brandon Lowe, who’s signed through 2024.

It was a proud moment for the father of the Wong boys, but he pointed out that Kean’s MLB call-up shined a bright light on the Big Island.

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“Like I told all the kids, everybody from Kolten, to Kean, to Jodd Carter, to Micah Bell, to Joey Jarneski, now all the scouts want to know where that kid came from,” Kaha Wong said. “After that, the line continues to grow. Kalai Rosario (Waiakea’s senior slugger) might get drafted if he stays in the program.

“I’m not saying it’s me, but if you stay in the program there’s a good chance it will happen.”

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