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Kolten Wong started off 2016 with a bang.
After back-to-back solid seasons to begin his MLB career and with plenty more potential to tap into, the St. Louis Cardinals signed him to an early five-year, $25.5 million extension in March.
That vote of confidence from the organization didn't spark the breakout season many were hoping for, and Wong actually found himself demoted to the minors in early June with a .222/.306/.286 slash line over his first 144 plate appearances.
When he returned to the big leagues a couple of weeks later, the everyday second base job was no longer waiting for him, as Jedd Gyorko had pushed his way into more significant playing time.
That meant learning to play the outfield in order to see semi-regular at-bats, and Wong obliged.
He went on to hit .251/.341/.401 with 15 extra-base hits in 217 plate appearances post-demotion, settling back in as the primary second baseman in September.
To his credit, the organization still seems to have high hopes for the former first-round pick.
"I see exciting things ahead for him," manager Mike Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Wong, Gyorko, Aledmys Diaz, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter are all candidates to see time up the middle for the Cardinals in 2017, though Carpenter is currently slated to take over as the primary first baseman.
As such, Wong won't have the everyday second base job just handed back to him, but he'll be given every opportunity to go out and grab it this spring.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac unless otherwise noted.