|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|For the first time under owner Peter Angelos, the Orioles have taken a Scott Boras guy. Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters was the best college position player in the draft and wouldn't have lasted until the No. 5 pick on pure ability. Also interesting to note that the O's went back to the Boras well in the fifth round for Texas Christian righthander Jake Arrieta. He was a projected first-rounder coming into 2007, but an inconsistent season and signability questions knocked him down. He could prove to be a steal.|
BALTIMORE--The Orioles took a catcher in the first round of the draft for the second time in three years, selecting George Tech switch-hitter Matt Wieters with the fifth overall pick.
Wieters, a junior, batted .358/.480/.592 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs in 218 at-bats. He had 17 doubles, two triples and 42 runs scored in 57 games for the Yellow Jackets, who also used him as their closer.
"He does a lot of things right," general manager Mike Flanagan said.
The Orioles wouldn't reveal whether Wieters was the top player on their draftboard, but he most certainly was near it. They also liked Quebec pitcher Phillippe Aumont, but decided on a player they rated as the best college hitter.
"Obviously, he was a guy who was very high on our board," scouting director Joe Jordan said. "We took the player we wanted."
Jordan, who drafted catcher Brandon Snyder in the first round in 2005, estimated that he watched Wieters play in 25 to 30 games, including high school.
"He's an advanced defensive catcher," Jordan said. "It's a wonderful fit for us and for our organization."
The Orioles will have to negotiate with agent Scott Boras, who represents Wieters. They'll have to sign the catcher by Aug. 15 or he'll re-enter next year's draft as a college senior.
"These things tend to take time," Flanagan said. "I don't see him signing early."
"There will be some (negotiations)," Jordan said, "but we would not have taken him if we didn't feel like at some point this summer he was out playing and was going to be part of the organization's plans going forward."
Until a few hours before the draft, the Orioles figured Wieters would be gone by the time they made their selection.
"There was more uncertainty this year than in years past," Jordan said. "But we got a good feeling at 11:30 or 12 o'clock that that's where we were headed."
Wieters led the Yellow Jackets in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases (129). He hit safely in 46 games and reached base safely in 55 straight games.
As a sophomore, Wieters batted .355/.480/.606 with 15 homers, 71 RBIs and 72 runs scored. He's a career .359 hitter in three college seasons.
He's drawn comparisons to Twins catcher Joe Mauer, the first pick in the 2001 draft.
"He has very soft hands and sets a good, low target," Flanagan said. "And I like the way he calls a game."
Depending on how quickly he signs, he could be assigned to Double-A Bowie. Otherwise, he'd report to one of the full-season Class A affiliates.
"His defensive ability is going to allow him to move quickly," Jordan said. "We think the bat is just a bat that needs minor league at-bats. He needs to swing the wooden bat for a while. But this guy should be at an accelerated pace, to some degree."
Wieters is tall for a catcher at 6-foot-5, but his size doesn't concern the Orioles.
"Not when you watch him play," Jordan said. "It's not prototypical. There aren't many taller catchers, but there are some, there have been some, and this guy has done it three years in college without any problem, so we're good."
The Orioles didn't have a supplemental pick, and they forfeited their second- and third-round selections after signing free agent relievers Danys Baez and Chad Bradford.