The Wait (or is that Wiet) is Over!!!!
The top prospect in Major League Baseball, Catcher Matt
Wieters, will be making his MLB debut tonight for my O’s at Camden Yards!!! Wieters, who is Baseball America’s Player of the Year, played three years at Georgia Tech before being selected by Baltimore with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft. The 6-foot-5, switch-hitting catcher split time between Class-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie last year, where he hit 27 homers, knocked in 91 runs and had a lofty .355 average. This season he was batting .305 with five homers and 30 RBIs with Triple-A Norfolk through Tuesday.
As if to validate the promotion, Wieters was 4 for 4 with four RBIs through eight innings against Toledo on Tuesday night.
What does Matt Wieters look like?
What are people saying about Matt?
Andy MacPhail, Orioles president of baseball operations: “You have a switch hitter who can play defense at a position where defense is valued, who has demonstrated early on an acumen for handling the game behind the plate, and who has a chance to hit in the middle of your lineup as a switch hitter. Those things all together are a very rare thing, and that’s why he’s drawn the attention that he has.”
Chris Tillman, Orioles’ top pitching prospect and a teammate of Wieters’ the past two seasons: “I love throwing to him. He’s such a big guy, but at the same time, he’s always so low to the ground and gives you a great target. If you’re missing the zone, he knows exactly what to do. He definitely has the mental part of the game down. He knows what he’s doing out there.”
Kevin Goldstein, analyst for Baseball Prospectus: “He’s certainly the best catching prospect baseball has seen in an incredibly long time, at least since [Minnesota's Joe] Mauer and maybe even longer than that. He’s a once-in-a-generation-type prospect. If you follow the way baseball works, he should get better over the next five years, which is potentially terrifying.”
Danny Hall, Georgia Tech baseball coach: “I’ve always said Matt is one of the special guys, just a cut above everybody else. The game doesn’t come easy, but he’s one of the guys that can slow the game down. I think he can handle it.”
Brad Bergesen, Orioles pitcher, who also played with Wieters at Double-A Bowie last year: “He’s the first guy I’ve seen come in with that much hype and live up to it. I’ve told everyone he’s truly the real deal. He’s got the complete game. He’s got the physical side of it, the mental side of it. It’s exciting for the fans that they finally get a glimpse of Matt Wieters. I don’t think there’s a question if he’s ready. He has the talent and the mental side also. He has unbelievable tools, so it will be exciting to see what he does up here.”
David Stockstill, Orioles director of player development: “He knows in his mind that there are expectations that he has of himself, and it’s not to be a Double-A ballplayer, or a good Triple-A ballplayer. It’s part of the process to get to where he knows he wants to be, and where he knows in his mind that he will be.”
Aubrey Huff, Orioles First Baseman: “I’m absolutely excited to see him. I’ve always been a big fan of his. The kid has got a great head on his shoulders. In spring training, nothing seemed to rattle him even with all the hype around him. I don’t expect all this hype to affect him one bit. He’s above all that. He just seems like a big old country boy, just a simple-minded guy that loves to play the game.”
Adam Jones, Orioles Center Fielder and 5-tool player: “It’s going to be fun. We’re in the big leagues. He’s not. I think we’re looking at it as, ‘It’s good he’s done with the minors.’ I don’t want to say he mastered the minors, but he did what he had to do.”
Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew blog author Kevin Kaduk wonders if there has ever been as much hype for another position player in the history of professional baseball: “So wunderkind catcher Matt Wieters is finally on his way to Baltimore and his Friday arrival has some of the bloggerati breathlessly comparing him to O’s backstop greats like Chris Hoiles and Mickey Tettleton (those guys had maybe 2 tools at best).”
“Seriously, though, the Wieters’ hype is the most I can ever remember for a rookie position player. Since I’m having a bit of trouble recalling other heralded arrivals, does anyone want to refresh my memory of other top prospects whose MLB debuts were greeted with everything just short of Sunday morning palm fronds? And remember I’m talking about position players here, since pitching prospects routinely get a lot of attention for their first starts.“
Jason Berken, newly called up Orioles Starting Pitcher (who won his MLB debut on Tuesday) and was Wieters’ teammate in the minor leagues during the past two seasons: “He does an unbelievable job. His hitting speaks for itself, but behind the plate he is very, very good. Last year, right from the beginning, the whole rotation clicked with him. He throws well and calls a great game. Everyone is excited to get him here and I am too, we’ve had a lot of success together.”
“He’s the total package, he does everything well. All the hype is worthy. Until yesterday he’s the best player I’ve ever played with. He did things last year I’ve never seen before. He was doing stuff in Double-A I couldn’t believe. Everyone should be excited, he’s an unbelievable player.”
On FanHouse.com, Matt Snyder offers some advice to fantasy owners for the rest of Wieters’ 2009 season:
“He’s no secret. He’s viewed by many as the best prospect in baseball and he’s owned in most fantasy leagues (63 percent in Yahoo as of Wednesday morning). Let’s take a look at what we can expect, though. He’s going to play most everyday; otherwise the Orioles would be stunting his development. He’s obviously not going to catch everyday, but I’m betting the O’s use him at DH on days when he doesn’t suit up in the tools of ignorance.”
“Wieters got off to a bit of a slow start — by his standards — in Triple-A this season, but he’s recently amped it up. He’s hitting .368 with 12 RBIs in his last 10 games. According to pretty much every scout, he’s got the potential to be a Mike Piazza-like hitting catcher.
For every Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria who doesn’t really go through an adjustment period you have a handful of Upton brothers’ who need a year or more. Using everything at my disposal — which, unfortunately, doesn’t include a crystal ball — I’m saying Wieters is more Braun and Longoria than Upton. The Orioles have been very deliberate and have made sure not to rush him. He’s ready, and bringing him up in the midst of a hot streak is exactly the right time.”
Expected Line: 100 games played, .280, 15 home runs, 60 RBI, 45 runs.
Scott Pianowski pokes fun at the attention surrounding Wieters’ call-up in a recent entry on Yahoo Sports’ Roto Arcade blog:
“In a stunning move, the Orioles are apparently ‘not’ going to retire Matt Wieters’ jersey before he plays in his first game Friday.”
Also, if you haven’t already checked it out, go to MattWietersFacts.com. The mock Hall of Fame plaque on the right-hand side of the page is quite humorous, and the quotes are great!
Matt Wieters Timeline
May 21, 1986 — Matthew Richard Wieters is born in Goose Creek, S.C. His father, Richard, pitched in the minor leagues with the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago White Sox from 1977 to 1981.
2001-2004 — Wieters plays all four years on the Stratford High (Goose Creek, S.C.) varsity team as a catcher, pitcher and first baseman. He is an All-American, All-State and All-Region selection as a senior in 2004 after hitting .407 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs.
June 29, 2005 — Wieters is named to the Freshman All-America team by Baseball America after batting .366 with 10 home runs and 68 RBIs in 60 games for Georgia Tech.
June 7, 2007 — The Orioles select Wieters with the fifth overall pick in the MLB draft. Wieters hit .359 with 35 home runs and 198 RBIs in 185 collegiate games at Georgia Tech, and also spent time as the Yellow Jackets’ closer during his three seasons.
Aug. 15, 2007 — Near the signing deadline, the Orioles and Wieters agree to a contract with a franchise-record $6 million signing bonus.
September to November 2007 — Wieters plays for the Honolulu Sharks in Hawaii Winter Baseball, hitting .283 with one home run and 17 RBIs in 31 games. He also has nine doubles, one triple and 12 walks.
April 4, 2008 — In his first professional game, Wieters goes 2-for-3 with two home runs in Single-A Frederick’s 7-3 win over Lynchburg. He hits .345 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs in 69 games for the Keys before being promoted to Double-A Bowie in June.
June 28, 2008 — Wieters is 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs in his first game for the Baysox, a 7-1 win over Altoona. In 61 games for Bowie, Wieters hit .365 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs.
September 2008 — The Baysox make the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but are eliminated in the first round by Akron after Wieters goes just 2-for-15 with four walks. Baseball America names Wieters as the Minor League Player of the Year, and he’s also chosen as the publication’s top prospect for the Single-A Carolina League and Double-A Eastern League.
February 2009 — Wieters is selected as the No. 1 prospect in the minor leagues by Baseball America.
March 2009 — Wieters hits .333 with one home run and five RBIs in 20 games for the Orioles during spring training, but is assigned to Triple-A Norfolk to start the season.
April 17, 2009 — After suffering a minor hamstring injury, Wieters is removed from the Tides’ game against Gwinnett for precautionary reasons. He misses four games before returning to the lineup on April 23 against Durham.
May 26, 2009 — On the MASN telecast of the Orioles game against the Toronto Blue Jays, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail announces that Wieters will be promoted to play against the Detroit Tigers Friday at Camden Yards.
Lastly, even the Oriole Bird is excited!!!