After the Red Sox dealt Christian Vázquez last year, many fans were hoping to see the team add at the catcher position for 2023. But, the Sox forged ahead with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong behind the plate.
The year started with McGuire as the No. 1 catcher, but recent injuries have limited his playing time and forced Wong into the top spot. Wong, who only had 33 MLB appearances prior to this season, is excelling in the role.
In 23 games behind the dish this season, he has made three errors but has allowed only one passed ball. He has also caught six runners stealing (in 14 opportunities), an area the Red Sox really struggled in at the start of the season.
“Defensively, he’s becoming a game changer,” manager Alex Cora told reporters, “He’s throwing people out and calling the game, but offensively, little by little, you can see him gaining confidence.”
Cora is right. Wong has been solid behind the plate, but it’s on offense where he’s really starting to shine. Wong has emerged as an unexpected hero for the Red Sox offense.
On Tuesday, Wong set a career-high for hits and home runs in a game. He came to the plate in the eighth inning a triple shy of the cycle, but instead settled for blasting his second home run of the night, which ended up being the game-winner for the Sox. Wong ended the night 4-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
“It was great,” Wong said after the game. “Obviously, it’s something you work towards. It’s nice to have success.”
And it’s not just one successful night for Wong. Over the last eight games, he’s slashing .444/.483/.852 with three home runs, six RBIs, and seven runs scored.
Since Boston acquired Wong in the Mookie Betts trade, there have been questions about whether or not he would be able to hit at the major league level. Recently, he seems to be putting those doubts to rest, and consistent starts have been the key to his offensive turnaround.
“The more consistent at-bats you get, your eyes get used to seeing pitches, and you can take pitches better, put better swings on the ball,” Wong said after Tuesday’s game.
He’s also made a few adjustments to his swing that have helped.
“I’ve just moved my hands around, trying to find some consistency getting to the ball,” Wong said. “I’m just continuing to make adjustments and grind it out.”
Wong is one of several young players who have stepped up for the Red Sox recently. The Sox have gone 12-6 in their last 18 games and are now 18-14 on the season. The team is looking more and more competitive, and the young players have been the driving force behind the team’s improvement.