Much-Hyped Phenom Wieters to Make Debut Tonight For Orioles
Legitimately one of the most hyped prospects in the history of baseball, catcher Matt Wieters will finally make his major-league debut with the Baltimore Orioles tonight at Camden Yards against the Detroit Tigers.
Wieters, 23, hit .305 in 39 games with AA Norfolk, with five home runs and 30 RBI in 39 games this season. In 2008, Wieters decimated AA pitchers, batting .365 with 12 homers and 51 RBI in just 61 games. He is a 6’5″, 230-pound switch hitter with advanced plate discipline and legitimate power from both sides of the plate, which has drawn him comparisons to Mark Teixeira.
He joins an Orioles team that already has young superstars Adam Jones and Nick Markakis coming into their own, and a deep farm system that includes top pitching prospect Chris Tillman.
Despite his obvious abilities at the plate, Wieters has also been heralded for his prowess behind it. There will certainly be questions about such a big dude manning the controls behind home, but Wieters is known to have quick feet and fluid movement in addition to a powerful throwing arm, which should translate to above-average defense in the majors. He also said that he learned how to call games from watching the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz Atlanta Braves with his father.
Needless to say, the 2008 Minor League Player of the Year is a hefty package of a player that should be the Orioles’ starting catcher for quite some time. He will immediately supplant Gregg Zaun as he starts tonight, and will also likely bat somewhere in the middle of the order.
Zaun told Tim Kurkjian of ESPN, “There is a serious learning curve to catching in the major leagues. He’s not going to just come right in here and hit .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs, and anchor a staff. If you want him to do well, leave him alone, and let him play.”
That sounds more like a plea from Zaun to the Orioles to let him platoon with Wieters, but that’s highly unlikely. He seems to be realizing- if he didn’t already- that he was merely a stop-gap catcher before Wieters got the inevitable call-up.
Even though Wieters has never stepped into the box against major league pitching, it’s not much of a stretch to consider him this year’s Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun in that he would immediately make a big impact with his bat. The kid has hit literally everywhere he’s been and there’s no reason to believe that won’t translate to major-league success.
He’s been described as “Joe Mauer with power,” but I guess this season that would just make him Joe Mauer. That’s some lofty praise for someone who hasn’t played a single major league game. But in a few short months, everyone tuned in to the sports world will know the name Matthew Richard Wieters.
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