Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Buck Showalter
Stadium: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
2008 Record: 68-93 (5th in AL East)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule

LINEUP

'08: Batting | Runs (8th in AL)
PLAYER B POS
Brian Roberts B 2B
Adam Jones R CF
Nick Markakis L RF
Aubrey Huff L 1B
Melvin Mora R 3B
Luke Scott L DH
Gregg Zaun B C
Cesar Izturis B SS
Felix Pie L LF
OFF THE BENCH
Ty Wigginton R INF/OF
Ryan Freel R INF/OF

PITCHING

'08: Pitching | ERA (13th in AL)
ROTATION T POS
Jeremy Guthrie R SP1
Koji Uehara R SP2
Adam Eaton R SP3
Alfredo Simon R SP4
Mark Hendrickson L SP5
BULLPEN
Chris Ray R Setup
Jim Johnson R Setup
George Sherrill L Closer
 

Richard Wieters pitched in the minor leagues, and on weekends, he and his catcher, Bill Port, used to hang out together and tell stories. At their knee listening was Richard's son. This is how Matt Wieters, a switch-hitting backstop now widely considered baseball's top prospect, learned about the special relationship between battery mates. "The catcher needs to be an extension of the pitching coach," says Matt, who was selected out of Georgia Tech as the fifth pick of the 2007 draft and is already considered a smart, take-charge receiver. When an Orioles official went to watch him at Double-A Bowie last year, the exec was stunned to see the 22-year-old Wieters running the pregame pitchers' meeting like a coach. And his bat? One talent evaluator says Wieters will be "Joe Mauer, but with more power." The O's are tempted to bring him north, but he'll most likely spend some time at Triple-A Norfolk, the better to polish his skills (and delay his free agency). "Wherever they put me," Wieters says, "I'll be happy to be playing baseball." Spoken like a savvy backstop.
-- Buster Olney

ESPN The Magazine's Orioles preview Insider

PROSPECTS

HITTER TO WATCH:

You may have heard of Matt Wieters. He's good.

PITCHER TO WATCH:

Alfredo Simon has bounced around and at 28 is old for a rookie, but he has a low- to mid-90s fastball, a good split, and a spot in the O's rotation.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.

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SPORTSNATION

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Featured Comment

Unless you've been in a coma for the last 9 months, it's clear that Matt Wieters is ready to be the Orioles' No. 1 catcher.


DaQuadfatha

American League fan previews

FANTASY

SLEEPER

Cesar Izturis is getting no love (he's owned in 1.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues), but the job is clearly his, and there's no reason he can't steal another 25 bases with an average that won't kill you. Not bad for a deep-league shortstop.

BUST

Aubrey Huff won't be terrible, but it doesn't make sense to pay for the 32 homers, 108 RBIs and .304 average he racked up in 2008. It's tough to find a "bust" on the Orioles, a team with such low expectations. Player in the fantasy spotlight: Matt Wieters.
-- Christopher Harris

INJURIES

Brian Roberts has missed a few games late this spring as a result of a respiratory infection and back spasms, which often go hand in hand for obvious reasons. Orioles fans may have become a little nervous when the Baltimore Sun reported that Roberts' pain on his left side was near the oblique muscles. Oblique abdominal injuries are notoriously slow-healing and can severely limit a hitter's swing, but it appears that Roberts may have dodged a bullet. He says he'll be back in the mix for the team's final spring games, meaning he'll be ready to start the season. If this is indeed a minor muscular issue associated with his recent illness, there should not be lingering concern for Roberts' health.
-- Stephania Bell

MORE

30 Questions: Is Matt Wieters the real deal?

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

  • Jayson Stark

    Stark
    No. 26 overall
    (5th in
    AL East)

  • Tim Kurkjian

    Kurkjian
    No. 26 overall
    (5th in
    AL East)

  • Buster Olney

    Olney
    No. 23 overall
    (5th in
    AL East)

  • Rob Neyer

    Neyer
    No. 19 overall
    (4th in
    AL East)

  • Jim Caple

    Caple
    No. 24 overall
    (5th in
    AL East)