xml:space="preserve">

Here is a look at recent media coverage of the catching prospect's upcoming promotion to the Orioles. If there is a link that I missed, e-mail me and I'll add it as soon as possible.

• ESPN's Jayson Stark makes an observation about Matt Wieters and the amount of time he spent behind the plate while playing for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides this season.

Advertisement

America's favorite catching prospect, Matt Wieters, arrives in Baltimore this weekend. But before you project him as your every-day fantasy catcher, here's something that might shock you:

Only twice since the first week of the season has he caught more than two days in a row. After Wieters tweaked his hamstring in April, he's generally spent one game as a DH for every two at catcher. So there are quite a few scouts questioning whether he's ready to catch in the big leagues.

"I think he'll hit enough that nobody will complain," one scout said. "But I just don't see him as a catcher. For a while, I thought maybe it was just me. So I asked around, and other guys said the same thing: Move him to first base."• ESPN's Buster Olney discusses Wieters' promotion to the major leagues in a recent video.

• On Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew blog, 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. (Charming times for Charm City, indeed.)

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.

• MASN's Steve Melewski talked to Orioles right-hander Jason Berken, Wieters' teammate in the minor leagues during the past two seasons, about the catcher's promotion to the majors.

Jason Berken, who picked up his first major league win here [Tuesday], pitched often to Wieters last year at Bowie and this season at Norfolk.

"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."

• Prior to Wieters becoming eligible for the list, The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin shares his thoughts about the best catchers in Orioles history.

When uber-prospect Matt Wieters makes his big league debut on Friday for the Baltimore Orioles, will he automatically rank as the best catcher in franchise history? OK, perhaps it's a bit hyperbolic -- in the vein of this Web site -- to even ask such a question.

But the question isn't as outlandish as you may think. Because while the Orioles have no shortages of all-time greats at nearly every other position on the field, their history at catcher is so pathetic, it's laughable. True, the Orioles have had some pretty decent names at catcher, but the majority of them (Javy Lopez, Ramon Hernandez, Charles Johnson, Terry Kennedy, et al.) had their best years elsewhere.

It isn't easy coming up with five players to populate this list, but here goes...

Advertisement

The Detroit News' Tom Gage alerts Detroit Tigers fans to the amount of media attention that will likely follow their team's trip to play the Orioles at Camden Yards this weekend.

Norfolk's catcher Matt Wieters went 4-for-4 with four RBIs against Toledo on Tuesday night.

How does that affect the Tigers?

Because it was Wieters -- and the buzz in Baltimore about Wieters catching his first major league game on Friday night is what the Tigers are heading toward next.

• David Driver of the Laurel Leader shares some insight from Tides radio announcer Bob Socci about Wieters' popularity with baseball fans.

I spoke to Socci today, and he had nothing but good things to say about Wieters, who was been besieged by autograph seekers throughout the International League. Socci said in Syracuse the team had to put up barriers next to the visiting clubhouse the day after fans lined up to greet Wieters -- with pens in hand.

"This was Syracuse, far from Oriole country," said Socci, who estimated 50 or 60 fans came one day to try to get Wieters to sign for them. "I have never seen anything like it."

Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan writes a humorous account of the effect that Orioles fans hope Wieters will have on the team's chances this season.

Capping the greatest story in baseball history... no, sports history... the Baltimore Orioles became World Champions last night, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-1 to complete their sweep, and extend their winning streak to 129 games, a stretch that dates to May 25, four days before catcher Matt Wieters made his major league debut.

"Unbelievable," a champagne-soaked Nick Markakis said. The Orioles right fielder repeated the word, eyes glassy, jersey half-on, half soaked, wearing a black cap with the improbable words "2009 World Series Champions" stitched in orange. Markakis would have been the MVP of any other Series, with his .429 average, two home runs, and Game Three-saving catch in the right-field corner. In this one, though, his performance was a footnote.

No, it was the rookie catcher from Georgia Tech who took the hardware, the same way he's taken everything else from the day he arrived in Baltimore. Joining a last-place team whose goals were long-term, he played the kind of baseball last seen depicted by Robert Redford, with a dash of Bugs Bunny. Wieters hit three home runs in his major league debut, the last a majestic shot off of the warehouse to break a 9-9 tie in the 11th inning, making him a legend before he'd taken his first MLB shower.

Advertisement

1. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles: Wieters will get his long-awaited call to the big leagues Friday after hitting .305 and slugging .504 at Triple-A. Start him immediately in all formats.

• Also, on ESPN.com's Fantasy Baseball Blog, Tristan H. Cockcroft says the initial projections for Wieters' production in 2009 might be a little low because the Orioles will bring him up earlier than most analysts expected.

Interestingly, our preseason estimates had the Orioles waiting until at least June 1, and probably closer to June 15, to promote Wieters. We weren't off by much, only a couple of weeks, but with Wieters set to debut May 29, he will be available to the Orioles for 114 of their 162 games (70.3 percent). Our preseason projections called for 300 at-bats, a .287 batting average, 13 home runs and 46 RBIs. Considering that a typical starting catcher generally gets about 75 percent of the playing time, and a typical team gets a bit short of 600 at-bats from its backstops, Wieters might stand a chance at 325-350 at-bats. In other words, our initial projection might be shortchanging him.

That presumes, of course, that Wieters is up to play and that he's ready to hit right from the start. To the first point, the Orioles wouldn't call up their top prospect to have him ride the pine, especially not having suppressed his earning ability for this long. Wieters should get at least 70 percent of the remaining starts behind the plate, rendering Gregg Zaun useless in fantasy leagues, and that assumes Zaun, not Chad Moeller, even sticks around as the No. 2 option.

To the second point, Wieters has done nothing but rake throughout the minor leagues. He's batting .285 with five home runs, 26 RBIs and an .849 OPS in 38 games for Triple-A Norfolk this season, having improved those numbers with a .299 batting average and .919 OPS in 24 contests this month. Those numbers look suspiciously similar to our preseason projections, no? Meanwhile, for his minor league career, Wieters has batted .338 with a 1.005 OPS in 168 games, having obliterated the pitching in the Single-A Carolina League and Double-A Eastern League in 2008.

• On FanHouse.com, Matt Snyder offers some advice to fantasy owners on what to expect from Wieters for the rest of the 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 don'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's jersey before he plays in his first game Friday. That's a blog post of its own, but we can't ignore what the 30 MLB clubs do for the next two days, the end of the Before Wieters era. Let's have a look around the Wednesday sandlot action, bullet style.

Reaction from Orioles fans and bloggers

• 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 one of my favorite quotes is listed below.

Matt Wieters Is So Important That When He Gets Called Up, Peter Schmuck Will Stop Wearing Hawaiian Shirts And Wear Suits Instead.

• The message boards at OriolesHangout.com are full of discussion about Wieters, and "larrytt" takes a humorous approach to the top 10 problems with the catcher. The top issue on the list is below

1. He can't pitch. (Okay, he's probably our best pitcher, but he probably won't get the chance.)

• "joeb" on BirdsWatcher.com expresses his enthusiasm about the Orioles' decision to add Wieters to the major league roster beginning with Friday night's game against the Tigers.

Wow, this week is so exciting as an Orioles fan. So, yeah we all know about how the team was down by 5 in the middle of the game, then came back in the 8th and then blew it in the 11th, and then Nolan Reimold hit a 3-run shot to win it, and got pied in his post-game interview. Yeah, all of that's fine and dandy. But some other things are much, much, much cooler happening this week. Here's a list, ranked by how excited I am about each event.

1. MATT WIETERS HAS ARRIVED!!!!! Dos Equis should sign him up for their ad, scratch that old Mexican guy who gets all the attractive ladies.

Advertisement

• The Oriole Post hopes fans won't put too many expectations on the young catcher as soon as he is promoted to the major leagues.

I am all for Matt Wieters coming up to the majors, being anointed as the savior of the franchise, selling tickets and walking on water; however, for all my excitement -- will he make the team better? Not really -- at least now?

I do love that the best prospect in the game will make his debut in the black and the orange on Friday against the Tigers, but the influx of young talent -- more than anything, the young pitching -- will determine how far we go.

The timing of the announcement was a little odd in my mind, but hey, the team needs buzz, attendance is sagging and was only above ten thousand yesterday; however, as Andy MacPhail said, "it's about time".

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement