The Topps baseball card company gave fans an interesting conversation starter on Wednesday, when it named its All-Rookie Team for 2009. And while many of the selections were noteworthy, there also seemed to be at least one glaring omission.
Matt Wieters, one of the most highly rated rookies in recent seasons, was left off the team in favor of former Baltimore farmhand Omir Santos despite having a marked edge in batting average (.288 and .260), on-base percentage (.340 and .296) and slugging (.412 and .390).
The Orioles did see Nolan Reimold named to the team, a selection that recognized the team’s year-long youth movement. Reimold led all American League rookies in home runs (15), on-base percentage (.365) and slugging (.466) when his season was cut short by injury.
— Spencer Fordin
The Orioles found themselves in a curious situation Wednesday night, when they had backup catcher Gregg Zaun at the plate with two outs and two runners on base in the ninth inning.
With his team trailing by two runs, manager Dave Trembley elected not to use starter Matt Wieters as a pinch-hitter and said that it wasn’t really a consideration. Zaun wound up working the count full and striking out looking against closer Fernando Rodney.
“I highly doubt if Wieters has been in that situation before,” Trembley said. “I think Zaun has probably been there many, many times. I’d prefer to just stay with where we’re at right there.”
When Brian Matusz won on Tuesday, he became the fifth Baltimore rookie to win his big-league debut this season, a feat unrivaled in modern baseball history. Only one other team — the 1888 Chicago White Stockings, who later became the Cubs — has managed to equal that achievement, giving the Orioles an interesting footnote in the game’s annals.
Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez have also won their debuts this season, and Baltimore had a near-miss in a no-decision for Chris Tillman.
Rookie Matt Wieters, who helped usher Matusz through his debut, had an interesting quip. “That’s when they started baseball,” he said of 1888. “So everybody was debuting.”
Apparently, the only thing that can stop Matt Wieters is the weather. Baltimore’s game against Detroit appears to be subject to a steady downpour, a rainstorm that seems destined to at least delay the start of the game. The tarp has been on the field at Camden Yards for much of the pregame hours, and the scheduled start-time is only 11 minutes away.
Stratford High School coach John Chalus keeps in touch with the exploits of his former player, Matt Wieters, mainly by updates from the youngster’s mother. Chalus said recently that he never got to see Wieters play at Georgia Tech and that he hopes to see him in the big leagues, but he relayed a little anecdote about being in the catcher’s life.
Chalus said that he was invited to Wieters’ wedding but wasn’t able to attend, so he sent an autographed ball as part of the players’ wedding gift. “He must’ve just started busted out laughing when he opened the box,” said Chalus of Wieters, who will make his debut today.
The wait is over. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, announced on Tuesday’s telecast that Matt Wieters will be called up to the Majors on Friday. Wieters, the team’s top prospect, is currently hitting .285 with five home runs for Triple-A Norfolk.
Wieters, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, tore through two levels and was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year last season. The switch-hitter should step in immediately as the team’s starting catcher, supplanting Gregg Zaun.
The time is coming. Nobody knows exactly when super-prospect Matt Wieters will make his Major League debut, but there’s a sense that the day isn’t too far away. Wieters, a switch-hitting catcher, is batting .291 with a .398 on-base percentage for Triple-A Norfolk, and Baltimore manager Dave Trembley was asked about his progress on Tuesday.
“Matt Wieters is healthy,” he said. “We’re aware of what he’s doing. I’m sure his time is coming. I just don’t know when. I think we’d all have to be living in a cave somewhere to not be aware of his progress and follow what he’s doing. I can’t speculate or say when he’s going to join our club. Right now, he’s playing for our Triple-A club and doing quite well.”
Wieters, who started slow and had to contend with a hamstring injury at one point, has been rounding into form recently. Wieters, the fifth overall selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, is batting .333 with a .442 on-base mark through 11 games in May.