Matt Wieters Is Coming and Everybody Knows It

Heralded prospect debuts on Friday

If you spend any time at all following baseball you are already aware that Friday is a very big day. Matt Wieters will make his big league debut with the Orioles, and the world is already at a loss for superlatives. There's good reason for all the excitement. For those who aren't already in the know, Wieters is a switch-hitting catcher who has slaughtered minor league pitching in his two years of minor league play, can leap tall buildings in a single bound and shoots lightning bolts from his eyes to save maidens in distress.

Over at Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew on Wednesday, Kevin Kaduk asked if anyone can remember the debut of another position player being met with this level of hype. My own reaction is that it is something that's becoming more and more common. Last year it was Evan Longoria with the Rays, while 2007's Ryan Braun introduction was heralded with fanfare across the nation. Joe Mauer was everywhere after the Twins picked him first overall and took him away from a Florida State football scholarship.

Maybe Wieters is getting more hype, but it doesn't really feel that way. If anything, the crush of stories and anticipation for his arrival seems to be more of a statement about things that have nothing to do with Wieters whatsoever.  

Unlike the NBA and NFL, where draft picks are stars in college and play right away, baseball's top prospects don't have a big platform for casual fans and then disappear for at least a year before they make it to the Show. In the past, that meant there were only occasional reports in newspapers and Spring Training sightings to keep people acquainted with who was coming down the pike.

Now, though, there are dozens of terrific websites that can give you daily updates on all levels of every team's organization. There are also millions of fantasy baseball players looking for an edge for their leagues, which means they are breathlessly keeping tabs on the players most likely to make an impact once the season is underway. To varying degrees, the debuts of Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and Fernando Martinez have all been met with levels of interest that would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago.

None of this should be taken as a slight on Wieters' talent or a caution against getting too excited about the next big thing. That's what sports is about, and every baseball fan should be hopeful that Wieters is everything he's cracked up to be because baseball will be a richer game for it.

It's just a statement on how each new thing that comes down the pike, in sports and elsewhere, seems to become the biggest thing that's ever happened in history. And then it gets topped in short order because everything needs to be the best or the greatest or the most whatever that's ever been.

All of that is ties back into how easy it is to get information now, be it about baseball players or state senators from Illinois, and how hard it is to be surprised by anything. Maybe Wieters will be a baseball immortal, or maybe he'll just be damn good, but you can be sure it won't be long before someone else is getting the same treatment in advance of his arrival in the big leagues.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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