Wieters' status as an up-and-comer was cemented in the summer before his senior year in high school, when he was playing travel ball for a team coached by his father, who played in the minor leagues for six years. During one game, Wieters came in to pitch with the bases loaded and no outs and struck out the side on nine pitches. After the game, a scout approached Richard Wieters and told him his son, whose velocity was normally in the mid-80s, hit 95 mph on the radar gun.
"I've been around a lot of baseball, and I've never seen that," Richard Wieters said.
In one game against Miami during his freshman season at Georgia Tech, Wieters hit a two-run, ninth-inning homer to give the Yellow Jackets the lead and then pitched the bottom of the ninth to get the save. That prompted his teammates to start calling him "God."
"There are guys, and then there are special guys," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "And I've always said Matt is one of the special guys, just a cut above everybody else."
Thirty minutes before the midnight deadline for the Orioles to sign Wieters or lose his rights, he called his father and told him that he was likely headed back to Georgia Tech. The Orioles got the deal done with nary a minute to spare, presenting the catcher with a franchise-record $6 million signing bonus.
In his first two official professional at-bats for Single-A Frederick, Wieters homered.
"I was in the bullpen, and we were just laughing how massive those home runs were," Orioles pitching prospect Brad Bergesen said. "It was unbelievable. He's the first guy I've seen come in with that much hype and live up to it. He's the real deal."
Wieters, who spends his free time golfing and hanging out with his new bride in their Atlanta home, remained thoroughly unimpressed with himself during his 2008 season, which Goldstein called "not just good, but historically good." His father, a certified public accountant, called him after his two-homer professional debut and said, "Good game," to which his son said, "I guess so."
"That's about all you're going to get," Richard said. "We're not going to have a big phone bill with him."
Pam Wieters, a high school teacher, started a scrapbook for her son and her daughter, Rebecca, who played volleyball at the College of Charleston and now is in graduate school at the University of Maryland.
"[Rebecca] will look through it now and then, but Matt won't look through it," Pam Wieters said. "He'll say, 'Someday I'll look at it, maybe when my career is over.' "
It's that humility that has impressed his veteran teammates this spring. When not on the field, Wieters spends much of his time sitting back and listening as other Orioles carry the conversation. When the catchers in camp took Uehara out to dinner, Zaun said Wieters said barely a word. Still, he was very much in his element, hanging out with teammates, talking baseball and just being one of the guys.
"The guy shows up every day to get his work in and keeps to himself pretty much," Zaun said. "He's very well-suited to be who he is and in the position that he's in. ... He handles himself exactly the way he's supposed to."
by the numbers
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters' college and pro statistics:
Year Team Avg. G 2B 3B HR RBI BB Slg.
2005 Georgia Tech .366 60 17 1 10 68 45 .581
2006 Georgia Tech .355 68 20 0 15 71 56 .606
2007 Georgia Tech .358 57 17 2 10 59 51 .592
2008 Frederick (A) .345 69 8 0 15 40 44 .576
Bowie (AA) .365 61 14 2 12 51 38 .625