When the Orioles were on the clock in the first round of the amateur draft, few people knew for sure who they would select. Matt Wieters was no exception.
"I'm very excited to be part of the Orioles organization," Wieters told Inside The Warehouse. "I really went into the draft with no predetermined [idea] of where I might go or what I might do. I'm very happy that the Orioles did pick me and, for the time that I was picked, I was very, very excited."
"I was watching with a bunch of my family- my dad, my mom, my sister- and then I went to my Aunt's house. We were just watching the draft on her TV. A bunch of my teammates from my baseball team came up too and we just watched it here."
Matt Wieters was considered a first or second round talent out of high school in the 2004 draft, but a strong commitment to Georgia Tech scared teams off. While some might consider foregoing a six figure bonus a gamble, the gamble appears to have paid off.
"I felt like I improved a lot in college. At the same time, I loved college, but it might be time to move on and try the wood bat. I was just very excited that I had an opportunity to go in the draft this year and, ultimately, I want to make baseball my career. I'm ready to get going."
Wieters spent three years at Georgia Tech. He was the teams starting catcher and best hitter from the time he arrived on campus. By 2007, he was widely considered the best position player in college baseball. As he admits, such an accomplishment took a lot of hard work.
"[The part of my game I've improved most is] the strength and conditioning program we do here. It was, by far, the thing I needed to improve the most when I came to school. I needed to mature more physically."
His advisor, Scott Boras, commonly uses comparisons to drive up his players' price tag. Wieters, however, believes that his game is his own.
"I like to compare myself to a lot of different people; it depends. I think there's not one player I'd like to compare myself to. At the same time, it's rare to be a switch-hitting catcher, there's not that many out there, so [Jason] Varitek comes up right away, especially since he went to [Georgia] Tech. And then, as far as a switch-hitter, [Mark] Teixeira came along too. I want to be my own player, but, at the same time, I like to watch other players, what they do and what they do well, and what I might want to try and copy from them."
Listed at 6'5'', some scouts have expressed concerns about Wieters' long-term durability behind the plate. Despite this, the switch-hitting 21 year old remains committed to the position.
"I've always been a catcher. I've always loved it back there. Anything that's going to keep you playing baseball for a living, I'll do, but catching is my first love. It's what I love most."
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Baltimore Orioles have until August 15th to make Matt Wieters a part of the organization, or they will lose his rights. Wieters, for one, hopes it is an enduring relationship.
"I was always a Braves fan because they were on TV every day where I grew up. I was a fan of there's, but I've always been just a fan of baseball. Now, hopefully, I'll be a Baltimore Orioles fan."
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com