I've spent all winter trying to temper my expectations for Wieters, and then Kevin Goldstein goes and writes this article:
What did I learn this winter? I learned that Baltimore catching prospect Matt Wieters is good. Well, wait a second, I already knew that, so how about, "really good"? Nope, the extra modifier just doesn't do it justice.
How about this: after looking at the performance, talking to the scouts, and seeing what our numbers people were able to uncover over the offseason, Matt Wieters is the best prospect in baseball, the best player on the Orioles right now, and quite possibly the best catcher in the game. And he's yet to play an inning in the big leagues.
So we know he's great, but work done by our team of researchers and statisticians during the offseason suggests that he might just be historic. One essential measurement here at Baseball Prospectus is Clay Davenport's Equivalent Average (abbreviated as EqA),s a single figure that measures total offense and adjusts for a number of factors, including the league's offensive environment, park factors, and team pitching, while providing further balances to allow for accurate comparisons across different eras.
Applying these complex formulas to Wieters' minor league season gives him a .301 EqA for his High-A stint and a .349 mark at Double-A. EqA is scaled like batting average, so those are good numbers to be sure, but further research reveals that those are the highest marks achieved in both leagues in the last 40 years, which is as far back as our data goes. Matt Wieters wasn't just great last year, he put together one of the best single seasons in modern minor league history.
If that isn't an enthusiastic-enough endorsement, then there's PECOTA, our projection system, and the most accurate one in the business. PECOTA is a system that does what it does based on comparisons— finding similar players with similar physical tools and baseball skill sets. According to PECOTA, with a full slate of at-bats, Wieters should hit .311 with a .395 on-base percentage and a .544 slugging mark this year. That's good for a .319 EqA. How good is that? Historically great, because it would easily be the highest mark of any catcher in 2009, and only 17 catchers have exceeded that mark in the history of baseball.
Now, when ranking prospects, simply going by the numbers is a fool's choice. Knowing what a player is doing is one thing, but knowing how that player is doing it is just as vital. Scouts are great people to talk to, often giving you in-depth breakdowns on every aspect of a player's game. Those were a little harder to come by on Wieters following his season; one scout presented with the name simply laughed, stating, "What can I say? The guy is just a stud." Even beyond the simple dominance reflected in the stats, that's what he is on a scouting level as well. We're talking about a massive physical specimen who combines plus power from both sides of the plate, the strike-zone discipline of a sharp-eyed veteran, above-average defensive skills behind the plate, and a cannon for an arm, proven by the 96 mph fastballs he'd throw during his days when he did double duty as Georgia Tech's closer in college.
He can't really be THAT good, can he?