Peter Bendix took a look at Matt Wieters back in November and came away concluding that Wieters could be Joe Mauer with more power. Those are some pretty lofty expectations. David Golebiewski briefly discussed his AA exploits last month. Now that pretty much all of the projection systems have come out, I think it is a pretty good time to revisit the prospect that has more words written about him than any in recent memory.
Mock Draft Central has the three top catchers (Brian McCann, Russell Martin, and Mauer) checking in between picks 45-50 in their recent drafts. Giovanni Soto is next at about the 65th pick. Matt Wieters is not in the top 75. What can we expect from Wieters? Well, the projections have quite a range. CHONE has him pegged for .274/.352/.439/.791 with 15 HRs in 115 games. They project him to have the 10th best OPS and tied for the 5th best HR total. This is the low-end projections. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the PECOTA projection. He rates as the best catcher in baseball according to PECOTA. His line is .311/.395/.544/.939 with 31 HR and 100+ RBIs and runs. Bill James’ and Oliver lie in between the two extremes. At worst it seems he will be a top 5 offensive catcher next year.
The bigger concern with Wieters is playing time. When will he see the bigs? In front of Wieters is the career backup/part-time option of Greg Zaun. I have a hard time believing that Zaun will hold Wieters off the position, and there is little doubt in my mind that Wieters will perform well enough to warrant a call. I imagine the only thing really holding Wieters back is money. Figuring that the Orioles do not stand a chance to contend this year in the stacked AL East, the O’s may be wise to hold him back to delay his arbitration clock. If attendance starts to wane, then the O’s may be wise to bring up the young stud to put butts in the seat. Seemingly, there is no way they hold him in the minors past June.
When he comes up, he will immediately be at worst one of the better offensive catchers. Most people seem to think, though, that he will be a force. Come summer you will be very, very glad you overdrafted for Wieters. In keeper leagues, he may be one of the best picks made in your draft, similar to Longoria last year. I know I plan on reaching for Wieters in most drafts and then depend on one of the catchers off the trash heap to man the position for a month or two.