Opposing scout sizes up Orioles’ Gold Glove candidates

Rawlings will announce its Gold Glove winners beginning at 9:30 p.m. tonight on ESPN2. As I recall, the program was delayed in 2011 because a college football game lasted six hours. Tonight, the network is airing the “Global Rallycross Championship” live from Las Vegas. No chance for overtime, right?

Matt Wieters is a finalist among the American League catchers. The same is true for J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Adam Jones in center field.

The Orioles will attempt to have three winners in the same year for the first time since 1998, when first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Mike Mussina were honored. It’s a tall order, but so was making the playoffs this season.

Wieters and Jones are seeking their second Gold Gloves. Hardy has never won it.

A scout from outside the organization who followed the Orioles for parts of this season offered the following critiques of the three candidates:

Wieters: “I didn’t see anyone in any other organization in the games I watched who was better than Wieters, just from a pure catching standpoint and receiving back there. He’s about as good as it gets, especially at controlling the running game. He doesn’t have the greatest arm in the league, but 95 percent of the time he’s right on point with his throws. There were probably 10-to-15 big league catchers that I got to see, and he stood out for me as the best one. There’s not even, for me, a close second. I didn’t see Yadier Molina with the Cardinals, but the guys I saw, he was noticeably the best defensively. It would be surprising if he didn’t win.”

Hardy: “He was probably the most surprising guy I saw all year defensively. I had no idea how good he was at shortstop. I don’t think I saw him misplay a ball all season. Maybe one ball coming in, on a slow roller, at some point. I knew he had a lot of power for a shortstop, but every time I talked to another scout, nobody ever mentioned his defense. I went there and watched him make play after play. He’s so solid and dependable. I don’t know if he’s Gold Glove in terms of making sensational plays and highlight-reel plays time and time again, but if I was on the mound, I’d be very happy having that guy play shortstop behind me.”

Jones: “That’s a tough position. Adam Jones plays center field about as good as you can play it, but most center fielders in the major leagues right now are great defenders, and guys like (Mike) Trout and (Austin) Jackson stand out a little bit more than Adam Jones does. He’s obviously a tremendous center fielder, but there are so many tremendous center fielders and only a few guys take it to the next level. He’s certainly a great defender, but I think the other two guys are probably a notch above him.”

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