Notes From Sin City: Make Way for Uber-Prospect Matt Wieters in Baltimore

Our MLB editor files dispatches from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas in Notes From Sin City.

Though it had been widely reported for the better part 24 hours, the Orioles officially announced the trade of catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Reds Tuesday. Hernandez is, more or less, your average starting major league backstop -- nothing to scoff at these days.

But he had to go for one very good, very big reason: Matt Wieters.

Wieters is nothing less than Baseball America's 2008 Minor League Player of the Year, an excellent catcher and an even more outstanding hitter.

Orioles president Andy MacPhail,pictured, said the Hernandez deal was almost entirely about clearing a spot for Wieters to play regularly. "It had been our goal to introduce Matt on to the major league scene in the '09 season," he said. "As a franchise we realized our future was probably with [him]."

Ya think? Wieters posted an absurd .355/.460/.625 line across two levels in his first full season as a professional this year. And for the privilege of opening a spot in the majors for a weapon like Wieters, MacPhail also got three players, including Ryan Freel, who is injury-prone but also versatile, particularly as they look for a platoon mate for left fielder Luke Scott, and prospect Brandon Waring, who has real pop (40 home runs in 188 games as a pro).

MacPhail was careful to temper expectations, saying that Wieters was not guaranteed to be the Opening Day catcher and that the Orioles would probably add a veteran backstop later this winter. But Matt Wieters is coming -- and soon.

Notes From Sin City: Make Way for Uber-Prospect Matt Wieters in Baltimore originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 09 Dec 2008 20:10:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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