So, for those of you who don’t follow minor league prospects all that closely, there’s this kid in the Orioles system named Matt Wieters. He’s good. He’s everybody’s #1 prospect. No one thinks he’s going to be anything less than a star. After all, he’s a catcher who just demolished Double-A pitching (.365/.460/.625!) in his first year as a pro and gets raves for his work behind the plate. What’s not to like?
However, I’m not sure people realize just how special the season that Wieters just had in Double-A really was. Here is the list of players who have hit had comparable offensive seasons in Double-A at age 22 or younger in the last 30 years.
Jose Canseco, 1985, age 20: .318/.406/.739 in 211 AB
Bob Hamelin, 1989, age 21: .308/.454/.640 in 211 AB
David Wright, 2004, age 21: .363/.467/.719 in 223 AB
Pat Burrell, 1999, age 22: .333/.438/.631 in 417 AB
Doug Jennings, 1987, age 22: .338/.459/.608 in 464 AB
Ben Grieve, 1997, age 21: .328/.455/.610 in 372 AB
Vladimir Guerrero, 1996, age 20: .360/.438/.612 in 417 AB
Miguel Cabrera, 2003, age 20: .365/.429/.609 in 266 AB
Eric Chavez, 1998, age 20: .328/.402/.612 in 335 AB
Okay, so, Hamelin and Jennings are around to remind us that he’s not a 100% mortal lock for stardom, but even including those guys, they totaled 33,620 major league at-bats and combined for a .283/.377/.501 mark. That’s an .878 OPS as a group. You know how many major league catchers have posted a career OPS of .878 or higher? Two – Mike Piazza and Mickey Cochrane.
I’m not saying that we should just enrhine Wieters in the Hall of Fame right now. There’s some chance that he’s going to be this generation’s Doug Jennings, after all. But it’s far, far more likely that Wieters is the best position prospect we’ve seen in quite a while – a catcher who hits like a DH and has the glove to be an asset behind the plate. That’s a remarkable player. Maybe we should start bronzing his plaque after all.
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