The future is now for 23-year old switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters played in 96 games for the Orioles last season and he was 102 for 354 (.288 avg, .752 OPS) with 35 runs scored, 9 homers and 43 RBIs. Look for Wieters to really step up for the Orioles in 2010 as he finished really strong for them last season. I’m thinking that a .300 average with 15-20 homers and 80-90 RBIs sounds about right to me for the 2010 season for Wieters. The Orioles hope that Wieters improves some behind the plate as he had 5 errors and 3 passed balls last season. He threw out 22% of the runners who attempted to steal against him and Orioles’ pitchers had a 5.03 ERA with him behind the plate. Part of the problem with Wieters behind the plate is his size as the Orioles rarely get low strikes because the umps have problems seeing them with Wieters catching.
34-year old righty swinging Chad Moeller will likely go into spring training as the #2 catcher for the Orioles but he will have to beat out Michel Hernandez and Craig Tatum for the job. Moeller played in 30 games for the Orioles last season and he was 23 for 89 (.258 avg, .751 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 2 homers and 10 RBIs. Moeller didn’t make any errors in 30 games behind the plate last season but he did have 3 passed balls so he’s far from perfect. He only threw out 4% of runners attempting to steal against him and Orioles’ pitchers had a 5.68 ERA throwing to him and that’s not good.
31-year old righty swinging Michel Hernandez will give Moeller a fight for the #2 catcher job this spring. He played in 35 games for the Rays last season and he was 24 of 99 (.242 avg, .615 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 1 homer, 12 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. Hernandez made 2 errors and he had 1 passed ball in 35 games behind the plate for the Rays last season. Hernandez is good with pitchers who had a 4.43 ERA with him behind the plate and he threw out 24% of baserunners trying to steal against him last season.
26-year old righty swinger Craig Tatum is the best defensive catcher the Orioles will have in spring training but he is also by far the worst hitter of this bunch. Tatum played in 26 games for the Reds last season and he was 11 for 68 (.162 avg, .471 OPS) with 3 runs scored, 1 homer and 6 RBIs. Tatum made 1 error and he didn’t have any passed balls last season in 26 games behind the plate. He threw out 30% of the runners trying to steal on him and Reds’ pitchers had a 4.32 ERA when pitching to him and that is pretty impressive considering what was on that pitching staff.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2010 SEASON: B