SF Giants top prospects: No. 22 — RHP Jake Wong
Highest Level: High-A (San Jose)
Acquired: Draft (2018)
Future-Value Grade: 40
A third-round pick in 2018, right-hander Jake Wong peaked as a prospect during his junior season at Grand Canyon University. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and touched 97 mph at times. However, his velocity has dipped as a professional. He projected as a mid-rotation starter or a premium back of the bullpen arm in college and that remains the case.
His stuff still flashes the pieces of a mid-rotation starter, but they lack consistency and polish. Working in the 92-94 mph range, his fastball’s combination of run and sink do allow it to play up and it still profiles as a potentially above-average pitch. His curveball is of the 11-to-5 variety and also has the potential to be a 55-grade pitch. He needs to improve his changeup command, but he maintains his arm action well and it could become an average big-league pitch with progress.
Wong is the midpoint between the refined approach of the Giants 2018 second-round pick Sean Hjelle and the premium stuff of fifth-rounder Blake Rivera. He has good control, but his command needs to make some strides before he can handle the competition in the upper-minors as a starter.
He began 2019 on the same developmental path as Hjelle, starting the season dominating at Augusta before earning a promotion to San Jose. However, when Hjelle was promoted with Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart to Double-A, Wong stayed put.
Wong maintained a solid (roughly 22%) strikeout rate in High-A and only surrendered walks in 0.6% more of his plate appearances. His .226 BABIP at Augusta skyrocketed to .335 at San Jose. His sinkerballer should induce softer contact and groundballs, but it’s hard to believe that large of a disparity was caused by much in Wong’s control. In fact, according to FanGraphs Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) metrics, Wong was only marginally less effective at High-A than at A-ball (4.09 FIP vs 3.34 FIP).
Neither metric was particularly impressive for a top draft pick. His trajectory is reminiscent of Giants reliever Shaun Anderson. Anderson was also a third-round pick. He never dominated but was a successful starter throughout the minors. Thus far though, that success hasn’t translated to the highest level, and instead, Anderson looks more like a premium bullpen arm. There’s nothing wrong with that, but barring a big step forward, the chances Wong can stick in the rotation seem lower than they were last season.