There's been a lot of recent publicity about the Orioles' minor league system, including top prospect Matt Wieters, so it's a good time to compile a media roundup.

Here's the content about Wieters:


• Last week, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked the top 100 prospects in minor league baseball. Wieters is at the top of the list, and he's joined by Brian Matusz (No. 28), Chris Tillman (No. 40) and Jake Arrieta (No. 92).

Wieters is typically compared to one of two current big-leaguers: Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer. Those are tough comps to hang on a player who has yet to sniff the big leagues, but in Wieters' case, they're merited.

Wieters' similarities to Teixeira don't end with their common alma mater of Georgia Tech or the fact that each was selected with the fifth overall pick (Teixeira in 2001, Wieters in 2007). Like Teixeira, Wieters is a switch-hitter with plus hit and power tools from both sides. He's a little more fluid from the left side with slightly better raw power, but he could stand on his head and still be short to the ball and get good extension on his follow-through. His plate discipline is strong and improving, and he's filled out since college, adding power to the point where he's at least major league average right now. He does glide a little bit on both sides, but it has no discernible effect on his ability to hit. ... • Wieters also participated in an online chat on ESPN.com to discuss the list.

Andy (Baltimore, MD): Scouts said that your one area of weakness was inexperience [is] calling a game behind the plate. How much did last year help you out calling a game? Do you think it will help you in the future that you caught guys like Tillman and Arrieta who should be in the majors with you soon?

Wieters: I think it's always a great experience when you can catch guys with major league ability. That way you can learn with them. It's always fun to work with them in order to call the best game possible.

• Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus listed the top 11 prospects in the organization. Goldstein ranks Wieters, Tillman and Matusz as five-star prospects, which is the highest level.

Ranking Challenges: Wieters is the obvious top prospect, but the system's incredible pitching depth creates a lot of uncertainty when trying to sort out those ranked behind him; scouts had wide-ranging opinions on the order of Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta, though for most Arrieta ended up one notch below the other two. The unknowns about [Troy] Patton following shoulder surgery provide a challenge, while the significant talent drop-off towards the bottom leaves the last three spots to be determined solely by personal preference.

• Wieters recently participated in the 2009 Rookie Career Development Program with other prospects. MLB.com conducted a video interview with Wieters, in which they discuss his future.

SI.com's Ted Keith talks about how Wieters is the key to the Orioles' long-term success.

Wieters is new, and he is not. Old, and he is not. Rare, and he is not. For the Baltimore Orioles, who made him the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, he is the future, and he is not (at least not yet). The best prospect in baseball, and there is hardly anyone around the game who would suggest that he is not.

Of course, each spring there is one player who is labeled a "can't miss," a guaranteed future star, a sure thing. And as often as not, the only sure thing about that player is that he is sure to disappoint. This year the mantle has been given to Wieters, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound switch-hitting catcher who possesses a laser arm so strong and accurate his college coach thought he had a big league future as a pitcher, and a bat so potent he's already being compared to two-time American League batting champion and fellow backstop Joe Mauer, but with the switch-hitting ability (and maybe the power) of Mark Teixeira.

To the many fans who will be learning about him for the first time this spring, Wieters remains a relatively unknown commodity. But to the scouts who have watched him since his high school days in South Carolina and through an All-America career at Georgia Tech, and to those hard-core Orioles fans desperately hoping that he'll lead their team back to respectability, he has been targeted as one of the game's brightest future stars for almost two years.

• The fantasy baseball experts at KFFL.com weigh in with their picks for 2009 Rookie of the Year, and they think the choice will be between Wieters and Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price.

Sorry, Cleveland Indians outfielder Matt LaPorta, but it's truly a two-horse race here. Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price was a postseason monster, and at the back end of the Rays rotation he should only see a minimal increase in the 123 2/3 combined frames he tossed last year. Of course, they'll probably be exclusively major league frames, so that may wear on him as the months go on.


Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters also grew up fast in the minors. He's polished beyond his years from both sides of the plate, though I'm a bit hesitant to believe he can master all the mental workings of an MLB catcher as quickly.

Still, due to his switch-hitting capabilities, his rapid offensive maturity and my reluctance to give the award to a pitcher, Wieters gets my nod (bold, right?).

Other articles about the Orioles' minor league system:

• Stan Goldberg of The Frederick News-Post reports that the Frederick Keys might be making upgrades to Harry Grove Stadium in 2009.

When the Frederick Keys open their home season on April 17 at Harry Grove Stadium, fans could be looking at a new and modern scoreboard and listening to a new sound system.

At some point during the year, they might be looking at a new videoboard in left field at the stadium, which was built in 1990.

City of Frederick facilities administrator Tim Beall said that bids have been put out by the City of Frederick for the scoreboard, sound system and videoboard. If approved by the city, which owns the stadium, Beall said the scoreboard and sound system could be ready for the home opener.

MLB.com's Lisa Winston discusses the 11 players from the Orioles' organization who are listed on provisional rosters for the World Baseball Classic, including three players -- infielder Mike Costanzo, outfielder Jeff Fiorentino and right-handed pitcher Cliff Flagello -- who have a good chance to represent Italy.


The Baltimore Orioles could see three of their young players suiting up in the red, white and green of Italy, as infielder Mike Costanzo, outfielder Jeff Fiorentino and right-hander Clifford Flagello were named to the country's 45-man provisional roster. All three would be newcomers to the squad that went 1-2 in a tough 2006 pool, beating Australia but losing to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

• Tim Brennan of The Daily Times (Salisbury) reports on the Delmarva Shorebirds' new alternate logo, which was unveiled at the team's Hot Stove Banquet last weekend.

This year, it wasn't just about a good meal, commiserating about the dipping temperatures and listening to speeches from some of the Shorebirds' and Orioles' higher-ups, including the keynote address from the O's color analyst on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, Dave Johnson.

This year's banquet included a few key announcements from Shorebirds general manager Chris Bitters: The beginning of naming annual fans of the year, as well as the introduction of an alternative cap logo to be worn by the team on Sundays. The new logo is something many teams across minor league baseball have done, and some have more than two. The Shorebirds have sported "the silhouette" logo, as Bitters likes to call it, since the team's inception, and it was time to make a small adjustment.

"Over the early years, the team developed Sherman as the mascot," Bitters said. "He's kind of the fun-loving Shorebird representation from a cartoon standpoint. So really, from an alternate cap logo, we were looking to create something else besides the same logo on the other caps."

• In case you missed it in yesterday's post about Jason Berken, here's an article from Todd McMahon ofThe De Pere Journal (De Pere, Wis.) about the 25-year-old right-hander.

Berken, born and raised in De Pere, is counting on his time to make the long-awaited jump to Major League Baseball to occur this year, his fourth in the Orioles organization.

"We call him the dreamer," Berken's wife, Emily, said. "When I say 'if', he always says 'when'."

Berken's aspirations of breaking through to the big leagues were buoyed by what he accomplished last season.

• If you're an Orioles fan in Ohio, you might want to check out Bowie Baysox manager Brad Komminsk at the Lima Knights of Columbus Hall on Monday. Here's some information from LimaOhio.com about the event, which will also include Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge.

Former Atlanta Braves regional scouting supervisor Lima's Jim Martz will host the night. Shawnee grad Brad Komminsk, now the manager of the division champion Class AA Bowie Baysox, will also be on hand.

Tickets are $30 per person, which include a dinner, a meet and greet and autograph opportunities. A cash bar will also be available.

The dinner will start at 5:30 p.m., with the meet-and-greet session and autographs scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Cumberland Times-News shares information about the 61st annual Dapper Dan Awards Banquet, which will feature University of Maryland quarterback Chris Turner and Aberdeen IronBirds second baseman Eric Perlozzo. The event will be held tomorrow at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.

Perlozzo, a 2002 graduate of Bishop Walsh, graduated from Shippensburg University in 2006 with a degree in psychology. He was drafted in the 35th round of the amateur player draft by the Baltimore Orioles.

A right-hander at the plate and in the field, Perlozzo played his first year in the minor leagues for the Bluefield Orioles where he hit .247 with 16 RBIs. He played last season for the Aberdeen IronBirds, hitting .241 in 51 games, with four doubles, one home run, eight RBIs in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.

• Don't forget to join the Facebook fan page for O's on Deck. Feel free to use the page as an online forum to discuss the Orioles' minor league system.


Is there a good story, column or blog post on the Orioles' minor league system that I missed? E-mail links to djones@baltimoresun.com and I'll add them to the roundup.