Today marks the first day of my position by position preview of the 2010 Baltimore Orioles. The first player up on my dial? Catcher Matt Wieters
Perhaps no player has ever been as hyped before stepping to the plate in a Major League Baseball game than catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters, the 5th overall selection in the 2007 MLB Draft, burst onto the scene in the minor leagues batting a combined .343 with 32 home runs and 121 RBI in a combined 169 games. To say that he was dominating competition at the plate would be a bit of an understatement. Wieters was named by many as the majors top prospect, and was already being called one of the best catchers of his generation: all before he played a single game. These are hard standards to live up to, but Wieters did his best, and came away with a very promising season.
Wieters struggled mightily in his first month as he got acclimated to not only the tougher pitching, but the demands of catching in the major leagues. He was not throwing out runners, and seemed to rush himself in many phases of the game. However, Wieters never seemed to waver or show signs of a fading confidence level ending the season hitting .323 in September. Wieters finished the season overall leading rookies with a .288 average. He ended up hitting nine homers to go with 43 RBI's. Perhaps the best statistic is that he got on base at a .340 clip. This not only shows a good eye, but a knack to get on base even when he's not seeing the baseball very well at the plate.
Defensively, we started to see Wieters take control of his pitching staff. He had to guide pitchers his age or even younger as the Orioles rebuilding plan was in full effect by June. He started throwing players out at a much higher rate, too. Perhaps the best part of Wieters, and it makes me forget the Ramon Hernandez era very quickly, is his ability and desire to protect the plate. He blocks anything and everything, and will stand his ground and protect the plate on plays at home plate. Wieters figures to only get better at his defensive craft, especially as the young pitchers grow with him.
I believe this will be a breakout season for Wieters. The hype that proceeded his arrival to the big leagues is gone, and he can finally relax as he started to in the latter stages of last season. He is clearly a major talent, and I can easily see him hitting 20 home runs and driving in close to 90-100 runs. His defensive talent and poise will continue to shine through as well. If Wieters is put in the four, five, or six hole in the lineup, I believe he will have ample opportunities to drive in runs.
Tomorrow's player Preview: