Baseball America’s 2008 # 1 ranked prospect Matt Wieters made his much anticipated Major League debut Friday, May 29, 2009 at home against the Detroit Tigers. President of Orioles Baseball Operations, Andy McPhail was convinced Matt had shown enough production at Norfolk (AAA) to warrant bringing the future Baseball Hall of Famer to the big leagues.
Did I say future Hall of Famer? Sorry, I meant extremely talented prospect. Yes, many of us are jumping the gun with Matt. Just because the 6’5” 230 lb, power switch hitting catcher has all the elite athletic tools (except speed) including defensive skills, leadership qualities and confidence to call a great game we still need to be patient with reasonable expectations concerning the twenty-three (23) year old rookie.
The way Matt approaches the game both on and off the field reminds me of Minnesota Twins two-time (2x) American League All-Star, Joe Mauer. Tall, athletic, quiet but confident, focused, a great teammate and good looking guy. I mention that because both these young players potentially have very bright endorsement and spokesperson type careers ahead of them. Joe has a head start already showing he can deliver on the field by winning two (2) American League Batting Championships and a Rawlings Gold Glove in just his first three years playing in the Major Leagues. I have had the opportunity to conduct several private signings with Joe over the past two (2) years and have come to admire his humble demeanor, work ethic and respect for everyone he meets off-the-field.
With much anticipation and fanfare, Matt was brought up to join the Orioles twenty-five (25) man roster. MLB licensees are now permitted to create and sell collectible and fan related items with his name / likeness, including the Orioles marks, on products such as replica jerseys, t-shirts, photos, mugs and trading cards, to name a few. “We have had customer interest in Matt Wieters all year. Now that he has joined the big league team we are anxiously awaiting new merchandise to arrive”, said Baltimore’s Baseball Card Outlet owner Scott Tanner.
I contacted Matt’s on/off-the-field representatives, the Boras Corporation to inquire about what might be in the works now that Matt has reached the big leagues. "We've received a tremendous amount of interest from manufacturers and licensees in regards to Matt Wieters participation in signings and appearances. Matt’s focus remains on baseball and making a contribution on the field with the Orioles, but we will continue to evaluate off-field opportunities as they arise." the Boras Marketing representative responded.
One licensed collectible each player looks forward to receiving once he reaches the big leagues is their “Rookie Card”. In today’s world, players have several “Minor League” cards produced by licensed manufacturers but it still isn’t the old fashion “Rookie Card” many of us old timers remember.
Companies such as Upper Deck (Team USA), Donruss Elite, Just Minors, Tri-Star and Razor Collectibles have collectively created one-hundred ninety one (191) different Matt Wieters Minor League cards, according to Beckett Magazine. In fact, one-hundred twenty one (121) different Matt Wieters Minor League cards were signed. The quantity signed per card manufactured is unknown.
According to Beckett, Matt’s three most valuable signed cards to-date are:
2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Aspirations #120 AU/50 -- $600
2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition Signature Turn of the Century #120 AU/100 -- $350
2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #120 AU/799 -- $250
It's worth noting that he has quite a few cards that are un-priced due to scarcity.
"As long as Matt performs up to expectations, his first official Rookie Cards will be in demand regardless of when they arrive. He's one of the most hyped and exciting catching prospects in years and collectors have already sent values of the cards he currently has soaring." said Beckett Magazine’s Editor, Tracy Hackler.
There are only two (2) MLB licensed trading card companies who can produce a Matt Wieters “Rookie Card”, Upper Deck and The Topps Company. Upper Deck has already announced that their Matt Wieters “Rookie Card” will be included in their MLB Icons set scheduled to hit the store shelves July 14, 2009.
Matt will also be appearing in the following five MLB sets released by Upper Deck over the balance of the 2009.
Ballpark Collection (late August)
SP Authentic (October)
Sweet Spot Materials (November)
Ultimate Collection (December)
When a player of Matt’s caliber reaches the big leagues fans have certain expectations concerning his play on the field. Collectors will speculate how fast Matt will become the next Johnny Bench or Mike Piazza. This speculation initially fuels the value of that “Rookie Card”, signed replica jersey, baseball or Matt Wieters game-used bat.
Given Matt’s athletic ability, talent and grounded perspective I think he will progress similar to Joe Mauer. Today, Matt’s collectible and memorabilia dollar value is all predicated on collectible market speculation. Values can and will fluctuate similar to the stock market throughout his career. Matt’s on-the-field performance and how he is perceived off-the-field will continue to determine his signature cost which has been currently determined by his marketing representative, Boras Marketing.
My opinion – look for a long and prosperous career in Major League Baseball. Matt’s career will reflect numerous accomplishments and awards. Invest on the speculation given he is a long-term buy!
* Meet Dwight Gooden at Sports Legends Museum, Wednesday, June 17th between 3:30 pm – 6 pm prior to the Orioles hosting the New York Mets at Camden Yards. For signature ticket prices visit www.SchulteSports.com or call (410) 350-6226. Tickets will be sold on-site as well.