It has been well documented that the Dodgers farm system was once considered among the very best in all of baseball even as recently as 2003 and 2004 when the Dodgers were grooming current starters Matt Kemp, James Loney, Chad Billingsley and a slew of other prospects who the Dodgers ended up (uggh) trading away. But since that time it seems that all of the focus of Dodger general manager Ned Colletti and director of player development De Jon Watson has been on drafting pitchers while seemingly turning a blind eye to drafting position players, at least in the early rounds of the amateur player draft. Granted, the Dodgers have an abundance of incredible pitching talent ‘down on the farm’ for which Colletti and Watson (and Logan White) are to be commended for, but there has been a blatant lack of above average position player talent in the system for the past six or seven years (how long did Frank McCourt own the team?). But just when things appear grim on the horizon with regards to position player prospects, a diamond in the rough has suddenly emerged; that diamond is Dodger second base prospect Scott Wingo.
Wingo was selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round (344th overall) as a second baseman in the 2011 MLB amateur draft (evidence of what I was referring to above) and to be quite honest, the Dodgers were extremely fortunate that he was still available when their pick came up this late in the draft. Wingo earned first-team All-SEC honors as a senior at the University of South Carolina and was named to the 2011 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team. The former Gamecock captain led his team in hitting with a .380 average in 30 conference games and hit .335 (71-for-212) for the year with a .468 on-base percentage, also among the best in the SEC. He also won consecutive All-SEC Defensive honors in 2010 and 2011.
And while college numbers don’t always carry over into the Minor Leagues, they certainly have for the right-handed throwing / left-handed hitting 23-year-old South Carolina native, as he quickly advanced through Rookie League and Low Single-A and began the 2012 season at High Single-A Rancho Cucamonga with the Quakes. In his first nine games, Wingo is 10 for 32 (.313) with 2 triples, one RBI, 3 runs, 7 walks, and 6 strikeouts; however it is his OBP that catches the eye at .436. Additionally, he has proven himself to be an excellent defensive second baseman, having committed no errors thus far in the season.
“Scott is a real gamer,” says Quakes manager Juan Bustabad of his second baseman. “And he also loves to steal bases,” added Bustabad, noting Wingo’s 3 stolen bases in his first nine games with the Quakes.
I had a chance to see Scott Wingo in action on Thursday night (April 26) in Lancaster when the Jethawks took on the visiting Quakes, and though Scott went 1 for 5, he hit the ball sharply in four of his five at bats while striking out once. He also made several fine defensive plays at second base and, in my opinion, he has a very good chance to make the 2012 Cal League All-Star team and an equally good chance of being promoted to Double-A Chattanooga before the end of the season.
If there is one position that the Dodgers need serious long-term help with it is second base and I have a strong feeling that Scott Wingo may just be that long-term solution.