He started the 2021 season with low Single-A Delmarva, but ended it with Double-A Bowie. And now, as the 2022 season heads into the second half, O’s infield prospect Jordan Westburg has moved into the back end of top 100 lists. And, with his strong play at Triple-A Norfolk, has put himself in position for a call to the majors whenever the big club is ready to make the move.
He excelled in the Southeastern Conference at Mississippi State before the O’s selected him No. 30 overall in the 2020 draft. Tides teammate Gunnar Henderson outshines him at times, but Westburg’s Triple-A numbers actually exceed those of Henderson, who is now a national top 10 prospect.
For the year, over 79 games, Westburg is batting .272/.342/.513/.855 with 25 doubles, two triples, 16 homers and 60 RBIs. His bat, like Henderson’s, has cooled a bit this month. But in 32 Triple-A games he is batting .304/.338/.565/.903 with seven homers and 28 RBIs. With Norfolk, only Henderson has hit .270/.393/.496/.889 with five homers and 19 RBIs.
Among O’s regulars on their farm, Westburg leads all in doubles, homers and RBIs, ranks third in slugging and fifth in OPS.
Tides manager Buck Britton has seen what other skippers on the O’s farm saw last year and earlier this year. Henderson and Westburg have a close relationship and like to push each other and help each other. They have played together at Delmarva, Aberdeen and Bowie and now, as of their promotions this year on June 6, at Norfolk.
“One of our big slogans, if you will, is iron sharpens iron,” Britton said during a recent phone interview. “These guys give each other their best, which obviously drives up the competition but also makes both of them better at the same time. They have more of like a brother thing going. They are not afraid to share information with each other, point out things they notice. They have a great relationship and it’s fun to see.”
Britton said Westburg has shown five solid tools with the Tides.
“The thing I forget about Jordan when you don’t see him for a while is how fast he is,” he said. “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.”
Westburg, now 23, was a college draft pick, unlike Henderson, who turned 21 late last month and was a selection from the high school ranks.
Westburg, now rated No. 94 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 97 in the top 100 by Baseball America, has been a leader on the Tides team.
“I am not sure of everything about his background, but he came in here and is a real baseball player," Britton said. "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. Westy, he does his thing and is consistent every day,”
On media day this year at Double-A Bowie, Westburg said his goal in 2022 was to make the big leagues. He impressed the Orioles in limited at-bats this year in spring training games, going 4-for-8, and he played well in a start against the Yankees in Tampa in March.
He has played second, short and third base on defense, but which is his best spot with the glove?
“He’s pretty consistent anywhere he goes,” Britton said. “That’s hard to say. He is steady Eddie out there. If a routine balls 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.”
Westburg got off to slow starts last year when he moved from low to high Single-A and then again to Double-A. But not this season, when he made it to Triple-A. He homered in his second game with the team, drove in five runs his first two games and was batting .455 after his first five games at that level.
And he has hit better with Norfolk than with Bowie. How come?
“I don’t know,” said Britton. “He got off to a slow start, which was good for him in that it’s good for prospects to sometimes experience adversity. The fact that he is just growing as a player and there were some adjustments being made at spring training (may have been a factor). They didn’t, maybe, pay off as much early at Bowie. I think that’s more an example of how he works his craft. He was getting hot at the end at Bowie and hit the ground running here.”