Matt Wieters Ready to Hit the Big Leagues

John McKennaContributor IMay 27, 2009

The Baltimore Orioles are finally about to give their fans what they wanted.

According to ESPN.com, the Orioles are ready to purchase the contract of 23-year-old catcher Matt Wieters. The heavily anticipated super-prospect is expected to be called up to the Major Leagues on May 29. Wieters will be facing the Detroit Tigers in his debut.

Currently sitting in last place in the American League East with a record of 19-26, the Orioles are looking to bring an offensive spark to the lineup. They have scored the fewest runs in the powerful AL East with 216, and have surrendered the most runs with 264.

Wieters will be depended on to make an immediate impact in the lineup. In becoming the primary catcher, either Gregg Zaun or Chad Moeller will be cut from the roster.

The cagey veterans Zaun and Moeller have not exactly been lighting the world on fire with their offense. The 38-year-old Zaun is currently sitting on a .216 batting average, with a single homer and four RBI in 35 games. He is a rare example of a player with an OBP greater than his slugging pct. Moeller has not been any better, sporting a .208 batting average and a terrible .240 OBP.

On the other hand, Wieters has been receiving plenty of attention regarding his offensive abilities. He has drawn comparisons to catching great Mike Piazza, and is generally considered the best prospect in all of baseball.

In triple-A this season, Wieters hit .285 with five homers and 26 RBI. He also showed a good eye for the strike zone by walking 19 times in 137 at-bats. Last season, Wieters displayed prodigious power in single and double-A ball, hitting 27 total home runs with a 1.053 OPS.

So, how will Wieters actually do in the majors?

Well, according to the experts at www.baseballprospectus.com, Wieters will put up above-average numbers for a major league catcher. In 297 projected plate appearances, they anticipate him batting a robust .311 with 14 homers and a superb .941 OPS. Now that he is being called up earlier than expected, those numbers could even see some improvement.

At 6’5”, 230 lbs, Wieters is certainly durable enough to take on the challenge of catching at the major league level. He has displayed strong defensive skills behind the plate to complement his bat as well. The biggest challenge for Wieters may be the rotation he will be handed, which can be described as average at best.

Regardless of the impact Wieters makes on the team, there is one thing that can be certain. On Friday, May 29, baseball fans and managers alike will turn their heads to Baltimore.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.