As the Tulsa Drillers began their final homestand of July, I had the chance to sit down with infielder Joey Wong. The Oregon State University product entered action on July 27 with a .251 average, one homer, and 16 RBIs. July has been his best month of the season, sporting a .370 average.
Kevin Henry: Talk about what has caused your average to spike in July.
Joey Wong: It’s a result of more at-bats. I’m close to 200 now for the season and I think I’m starting to figure things out a little more. My approach hasn’t changed all season. I think I’m just getting a little more comfortable at the plate.
Henry: Talk about your first season at the Double-A level.
Wong: Once I knew I was being sent here, I knew I wasn’t going to be an everyday player. I played behind (Cristhian) Adames and some of my other teammates in Modesto. When I got here, I just wanted to contribute whenever I got my chance. It’s been exactly what I expected. When I’ve had the chance, I’ve been able to contribute.
Henry: You mentioned your teammates at Modesto are now your teammates in Tulsa. How has that helped you be more comfortable at Double-A?
Wong: We came together in the second half of the season last year in Modesto and reached the playoffs. We had a rough start, but overcame that because we came together. That helped us all realize what we need to do in order to win. Reaching the championship series was big for us and we wanted to carry that over to this season.
Henry: And that carryover helped the Drillers earn the first-half Texas League North title?
Wong: It was a huge part for us. It was great for us to be able to help our first-year manager (Kevin Riggs) get that title under his belt. The second half hasn’t gone like we wanted, but we are still working hard. We know we earned that title in the first half and we want to work hard heading into the playoffs.
Henry: What are some of the things you learned at Modesto that you brought to Tulsa?
Wong: Stay with the plan. Trust each other. We persevered in the second half last season and discovered what it takes to become winning baseball players.
Henry: You mentioned earlier that you didn’t expect to be an everyday player in Tulsa. How has that affected your mindset when you come to the ballpark?
Wong: I come to the field every day and try to bring positive energy. When I’m not playing, I still get my reps at different positions so I can stay sharp.
Henry: You mentioned the different positions you’ve played in Tulsa. You’ve played second base, shortstop, and third base. How has your versatility helped you?
Wong: I’m not big or fast or strong. If you want to move on, you have to be able to do different things. You have to be able to help your team in any way you can and that’s what I am trying to do.
Henry: Do you have a favorite position on the field?
Wong: I grew up playing shortstop. I played one year of second base in college and I started playing third base in 2011. I enjoy playing all three positions.
Henry: You won a College World Series title with Oregon State in 2007. Talk about that season.
Wong: I was a freshman, and that was the most special year of playing baseball that I’ve ever experienced. The college game is just such a different game. Everyone wants to be exactly where they are in college. In the minors, we’re all working to be somewhere else (major leagues).