When we talk about some of the Orioles' best prospects, it seems we often mention a few players before we get to him. But it was infielder Jordan Westburg who last season took home the biggest honor for the O’s on the farm.
He was named the Brooks Robinson Award winner as the club’s Minor League Player of the Year. Gunnar Henderson might be Baseball America’s No. 1-ranked prospect in its top 100, but Westburg got that huge honor from the Orioles in late September.
He absolutely filled up the stat sheet during a 2022 season when he played 47 games at Double-A Bowie and 91 at Triple-A Norfolk. And while he posted a strong .817 OPS with the Baysox, that number got better when he moved up. His OPS was .869 for the Tides of the International League.
Between the two clubs he batted .265/.355/.496/.851 with 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 96 runs scored, 106 RBIs, 70 walks and 12 stolen bases in 138 games.
He led all O's minor league players in doubles, extra-base hits (69), total bases (270) and RBIs. He also finished second in the organization in hits and home runs. After being promoted to the Tides on June 6, he led the league with 74 RBIs and tied for the league lead with 25 doubles, while also ranking second in the IL with 46 extra-base hits, 184 total bases and 64 runs scored through the end of the season.
MLBPipeline.com ranks Westburg as the Orioles' No. 5 prospect and No. 76 in their top 100 across the sport. Baseball America ranks him as the O’s No. 6 and nationally at No. 89.
He shows five solid tools, getting 50 hit tool grades from both outlets and 55 power from Baseball America. Both grade him at 55 for running and fielding, and MLBPipeline.com puts a 55 grade on his arm, with Baseball America giving him a 50 in that category.
Buck Britton managed Westburg at Norfolk this year, and during the summer we talked about the player the O’s selected No. 30 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State. A right-handed hitter, Westburg has good bat speed and a compact stroke, and while he often can wear out right-center field, he also showed some pull-side power this year.
“The thing I forget about Jordan when you don’t see him for a while is how fast he is,” Britton said then. “This guy can move. He’s done a really nice job. And for him, I think pull side (hitting the ball) in the air was a big thing. Last year there were a lot of ground balls to the pull side, and he’s starting to really learn how to drive that ball pull side in the air. Now we want to make sure, after you master that, you stay with your strengths, and one of his strengths is driving that ball to right-center field, to the opposite-field gap. If he can stay on that and pull some balls in the air, this is another guy that can hit. I truly believe he’s going to be a really good hitter, just because of what he can do to right-center. He has a ton of power to the opposite-field gap.”
Britton said Westburg became a leader on his team.
"He’s not a very vocal leader, very quiet. But he goes about his business and there is a certain attention to detail he has that guys notice," Britton said. "Westy, he does his thing and is consistent every day.”
So where does Westburg fit in on the 2023 Orioles? Is he a candidate to start at second base? On the farm last year he made 54 starts at shortstop, 40 at second base and 37 at third.
He’s pretty consistent anywhere he goes,” Britton said. “That’s hard to say. He is Steady Eddie out there. If a routine ball gets hit to him, an out will be recorded. He’s done a nice job everywhere. Where he ends up, who knows? But I think this is going to be a guy that hits for us, and wherever he plays, he is a guy you can put there and trust he’ll make the routine play every time.”
The majors are the next stop for Westburg, even if right now the O's infield is getting crowded and as of today, we're not exactly certain where he fits on the roster next season in Baltimore.
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