- Full name Matthew Richard Wieters
- Born 05/21/1986 in Charleston, SC
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 235 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- School Georgia Tech
- Debut 05/29/2009
Drafted in the 1st round (5th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 (signed for $6,000,000).
View Draft ReportLike Price, Wieters' strong college commitment was the only reason he wasn't drafted in the first two rounds in 2004. A talented two-way player who flashed 90 mph heat and plus-plus raw power at his suburban Charleston, S.C., high school, Wieters is well on his way to fulfilling the lofty projections on his bat. He's batted in the heart of Georgia Tech's batting order and served as the closer since arriving on campus. He ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Cape Cod League in 2006 and was a first-team Preseason All-American this year. While his size has been used as a knock on his defensive ability, one national crosschecker said Wieters was the best defensive catcher he'd seen as an amateur since Charles Johnson, and another said only Joe Mauer was better among the amateurs he'd scouted. Wieters has soft hands, good footwork and well-above-average arm strength, as evidenced by the 96 mph heat he has shown from the mound. Despite his size, he shows an ability to handle low strikes and receives quietly. He's not as vocal on the field as prototypical catchers. Wieters is the most polished hitter in the draft class. He commands the strike zone, displaying patience and pitch recognition. When he gets his pitch, he can use his plus bat speed to pull it out of the park, or keep his hands inside it and line it to the opposite field. A natural righthanded hitter, his swing is shorter from the right and he tends to work up the middle more as a righthanded hitter. He prefers to pull and has more power from the left. He could post averages near .280 with 30-homer potential in the big leagues. If the Devil Rays take Price No. 1, the Royals could take Wieters second, but he could slide out of the top 10 if the money adviser Scott Boras reportedly will seek is perceived as exorbitant.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Lots of prospects get hyped, but few deliver on their advance billing as dramatically as Wieters did in 2008, his debut season. He posted dominant performances both at the plate and behind it. He batted .355 (fifth in the minors) with a .454 on-base percentage (third) and .600 slugging percentage (10th), and his 1.053 OPS was surpassed only by two players who spent all or part of the year in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Wieters was an easy choice as BA's Minor League Player of the Year, not to mention the top prospect in the high Class A Carolina and Double-A Eastern leagues. He also ranked No. 1 in Hawaii Winter Baseball in the fall of 2007. Baltimore was hoping for a cornerstone player when it paid him a then-record $6 million bonus as the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Wieters enjoyed an All-America career at Georgia Tech, initially starring as a two-way player before his pitching duties dwindled as he showed his prowess as a catcher. After his first pro season, the Orioles couldn't be happier with their investment. Wieters is an above-average hitter with above-average power, combining patience with the bat speed to drive pitches out of any part of the park. He's an amazingly polished offensive player with great pitch recognition and a knack for getting himself into favorable counts. And don't forget he's a switch-hitter. Behind the plate, he shows agility, soft hands and the strong arm that made him a quality pitcher. He threw out 46 percent of base-stealers in the Carolina League, and 32 percent in the Eastern League. He also earned high marks for his handling of pitchers and his game-calling skills. And yet people still tend to mention Wieters' intangibles first when they give their rave reviews: his quiet leadership, his ideal combination of being confident yet humble, his feel for the nuances of the game. Orioles officials note, for example, how quickly he adapted to professional breaking pitches, making adjustments not only within games but within individual at-bats. Wieters is a below-average runner, but he's athletic enough not to be a baseclogger, and he's plenty agile behind the plate. If you really want to look for negatives, you could wonder how long he'll stay behind the plate because he's so big. He clearly can handle the position, but if physical problems were to push him to first base, then his value would dip. But there's no reason at this point to think he won't spend at least the first five years of his big league career as a catcher. The Orioles have done all they can to keep Wieters under wraps, eschewing a September callup for example, but Baltimore fans are well aware of him and anxious to pin their hopes for the future on his broad shoulders. With the trade of Ramon Hernandez there's nothing standing in his way, though the Orioles may sign a veteran so Wieters can open 2009 at Triple-A Norfolk. He'll reach the majors at some point during the season, though, and it's hard to see him going back down after that.
Baseball America rated Wieters the best position player available in the 2007 draft and the No. 2 prospect overall. He would have been a premium pick in the 2004 draft coming out of high school in suburban Charleston, S.C., if not for his strong commitment to Georgia Tech. He hit in the middle of the order and was the closer for the Yellow Jackets from the time he was a freshman. Wieters was an All-American in both 2006 and '07, batting .358 with 10 homers as a junior. He started sliding in the draft as teams worried about his price tag--agent Scott Boras compared him to former Georgia Tech star Mark Teixeira, who turned pro for a $9.5 million contract--but the Orioles took a rare draft gamble with the fifth overall pick. Baltimore signed him just before the Aug. 15 deadline for a $6 million bonus, the largest upfront payment in draft history. He signed too late to play during the regular season, but he went to Hawaii Winter Baseball in the fall and ranked as the league's top prospect, batting .283/.364/.415 in 106 at-bats. Talk about the total package. Wieters offers plus tools both at the plate and behind it, yet the Orioles might be most excited about his intangibles. He's an impressive person, the type who looks like he can lead not only a pitching staff but a clubhouse. He was the most polished offensive player in the 2007 draft class, with plus bat speed and a line-drive approach to all fields. He has a good approach at the plate, and shows both discipline and pitch recognition. A switch-hitter, his swing is shorter from the right side and offers more power from the left. And even on days when his bat's not producing, he'll help his club with his catching. One scout said Wieters was the best defensive catcher he had seen since Charles Johnson, and he has soft hands and good footwork and receives the ball well. He obviously has plus-plus arm strength, having touched 96 mph as a closer. Pitchers constantly worked away from Wieters in college, and he developed a bad habit of stepping toward the plate to cover the outer half, which short-circuits his power a bit and leaves him vulnerable to inside pitches. The Orioles worked with him to get his lower half in better position and have him step toward the pitcher to free his swing up inside, and they expect he'll be able to make that adjustment. Though he's exceptionally big for a catcher, his size hasn't worked against him behind the plate so far. His worst tool is his below-average speed, but that's a given for a catcher. Wieters was a little rusty after holding out all summer, but his time in Hawaii should allow him to hit the ground running in the spring. All his tools are playable now yet he still offers projection, so he has the makings of a legitimate star. He'll officially open his pro career at high Class A Frederick and should move through the system quickly.
Minor League Top Prospects
Wieters did little in Norfolk to diminish his status as the top prospect in baseball, and he showed consistent improvement in his first season in the majors. He has the tools to be an all-star for years to come, yet for all his physical talents, his biggest asset may be his levelheaded, intelligent approach to the game. "The best tool he's got is the one between his ears," Norfolk manager Gary Allenson said. "For someone who has been written about so much and the expectations are so high, he has handled himself well." Wieters provides the complete package at the plate, mixing good bat speed, good timing and huge raw power to all fields. His home run totals should climb as he learns to hit the ball with more backspin. Behind the plate, he displays an above-average arm and uses his quick hands to make a rapid transfer. He threw out only 24 percent of IL baserunners, but he was making strides with his footwork. He's large for a catcher, but he has the agility and receiving skills to remain there. About the only thing he won't do well is run.
Wieters' ability to hit for average and power at the plate, and his advanced defensive skills behind it, made him a unanimous choice for the No. 1 ranking among the scouts, player-development officials and managers surveyed for this list. He overwhelmed CL pitching for three months, then did the same in Double-A, putting himself in line to join the Orioles at some point in 2009. Wieters showed the ability to handle the league's best fastballs from either side of the plate, hitting .391 with eight homers as a lefty and .327 with seven homers as a righty. He uses a quick, strong swing to hit with power to all fields. Unusually disciplined for a power hitter, Wieters worked counts to get in good hitting situations and walked (44) nearly as much as he struck out (47). "Leave it out over the plate and he'll hurt you," Wilmington manager Daryl Kennedy said. Wieters is deft behind the plate for a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder. He has quick feet, soft hands and plus arm strength, a combination that helped him throw out 45 percent of basestealers.
Wieters made everything look easy, and scouts agreed that it was difficult to find a glaring weakness in his game. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would have led the EL in batting (.365), on-base percentage (.460) and slugging percentage (.625). His patience and pitch recognition puts him in hitter's counts regularly, and he has above-average bat speed and strength that generate plus power. His bat stays in the hitting zone a long time, so he should hit for high average as well. Defensively, he threw out 32 percent of basestealers and didn't commit a passed ball thanks to soft hands, a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and excellent athletic ability despite being 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. "He plays a premium position and though he's big, he's very limber, receives quietly and blocks well," Altoona manager Tim Leiper said. "It's hard to find holes in his swing." "For me, no one in the league compares," Bowie manager Brad Komminsk said. "He was the best batter in the league and the best power hitter. He eventually will be as good as any catcher in the league defensively, and he can throw with anybody."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the American League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the American League in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Baltimore Orioles in 2009
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Baltimore Orioles in 2009
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Baltimore Orioles in 2009
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Baltimore Orioles in 2009
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the Carolina League in 2008
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the Carolina League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Carolina League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Baltimore Orioles in 2008