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Matthew Richard Wieters

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Matt Wieters, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year in 2008, has attracted attention because of his status as a top prospect. He made his major league debut in May 2009 for the Baltimore Orioles.

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He was a star for Georgia Tech and was picked fifth overall in the 2007 amateur draft by the Orioles.

Wieters is the son of Richard Wieters, who reached AA during his professional career from 1977-1981. He is also the nephew of Mike Shields, a former minor league pitcher for four years.

Matt was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year in 2005, hitting .366/.470/.581 while going 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA on the mound. He was in the top 10 in the ACC in average and had the lowest ERA on the #11-ranked team in the country. He finished second on the club with 68 RBI, trailing top prospect Tyler Greene, a junior, by 4. Baseball America named him a freshman All-American first-teamer as a DH. For the USA College national team, he hit .237/?/.545 while playing first base so that J.P. Arencibia could catch.

In 2006, Wieters was even better. He batted .355/.480/.606 and was 1-3 with 7 saves and a 3.41 ERA as the closer for Georgia Tech. He was a first-team Baseball America All-American as the top catcher in the country. His 56 walks were second in NCAA Division I, just one behind Pedro Alvarez. Georgia Tech was ranked 7th in the country. Wieters led the team in homers, saves and RBI while finishing second in runs (72) and average.

He hit .307/.417/.535 for the 2006 Orleans Cardinals. He was second in the Cape Cod League in average, 3 points behind Matt Mangini, was third in slugging, second in OBP behind Matt Cusick and tied for second in homers (8, even with Warren McFadden behind Justin Smoak). Baseball America rated him the #3 prospect in the league behind Smoak and Andrew Brackman.

Wieters hit .358/~.480/.592 as a junior while slipping to 1-4, 7.53 with 3 saves on the mound. He joined Buster Posey on the All-ACC first team at catcher. Matt won the Baseball America nod as the All-American catcher, while Posey was so honored by Collegiate Baseball and Ed Easley by the American Baseball Coaches Association. Easley beat out the other two for the Johnny Bench Award.

Wieters was advised by agent Scott Boras. This possibly detracted the Pittsburgh Pirates, who chose fourth, from selecting him. Scouted by Dave Jennings, Wieters went 5th overall in the 2007 amateur draft, to the Baltimore Orioles. He signed for a $6 million bonus right before the August 15 11:59 PM deadline.

Wieters debuted in winter ball for the Honolulu Sharks, hitting .283 and slugging .415. His OBP was around .356. Baseball America named him the best prospect in Hawaii Winter Baseball, beating out Austin Jackson.

Facing the Pirates organization that passed on him in the 2007 draft in his pro debut, Wieters homered twice, walked, scored 3 and drove in 3 in a 7-3 for the Frederick Keys over the Lynchburg Hillcats. He had a fabulous season in 2008, split between Frederick and the AA Bowie BaySox of the Eastern League, putting up a combined line of .355/.454/.600, with 22 doubles and 27 homers and 82 walks in 130 games. He was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year at the end of the season. The publication rated him the top prospect in both the Carolina League and Eastern League.

In 2009, Wieters started off with the Norfolk Tides. After 39 games, he was hitting .305/.387/.504 with 30 RBI. He was then promoted to Baltimore. He made his major league debut 8 days after his 23rd birthday, flying into a double play against Dontrelle Willis in his first at-bat. Hitting 7th, he finished the day 0 for 4. The next day, he doubled and tripled in 4 at-bats. He hit his first major league home run on June 17 against Tim Redding of the New York Mets.

Sources: 2007 Georgia Tech stats, Georgia Tech bio, The Baseball Cube, 2006-2009 Baseball Almanacs, Cape Cod League home page

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