As he played his first Major League game last night, making his long-awaited big league debut, Jordan Westburg entered an Orioles' clubhouse where he already has a strong comfort level.
He spent so much time with the Orioles in spring training and of course, has been teammates with many current Orioles during his 317 career games on the O’s farm since they selected him No. 30 overall out of Mississippi State in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Westburg began the 2021 season with Low Single-A Delmarva and ended it with Double-A Bowie. He began the 2022 season with Bowie and ended it with Triple-A Norfolk. And this year his start at Norfolk has finally taken him to Baltimore.
And he checked a lot of boxes in his first game - first hit, first run, first RBI and first win with the Orioles, who beat Cincinnati 10-3 in a game delayed twice by rain for nearly two hours. It was a long night but a special one for Westburg, who went 1-for-4 with a single, walk, run and RBI.
Before his debut game, he said knowing so many players so well should be a big help to him as he tries to establish something at the big league level.
“Certainly, certainly. It’s always nice to have familiar faces, especially like my first day here. Trying to maneuver my way around the clubhouse and figure out where I am supposed to be and where I’m going. Always nice to shake hands and say hello to everybody.”
On his first day, Westburg handled himself so well before the game and he, of course, was asked about waiting so long to get his call and the focus he maintained while he waited. Was it hard to be patient?
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I didn’t put too much thought into it. I was really focused on just the day-to-day and trying go get better every single day. I trusted that it was going to come. Maybe not in my time but in due time. I didn’t think it was too hard.”
Now he can identify with several of the young players in the clubhouse who have been his teammate before while also having spent considerable time in spring with some of the older and newer players on the roster for 2023.
“Yeah, a little bit (of that comfort with the young talent) but I think this clubhouse is full of veterans who have been here and done that. They have proven they can win no matter what the clubhouse demographic looks like and so it’s definitely exciting. Like I said, I’m just trying to fit in here, find my role and help this team continue to win.”
On his first day, he sure did that and had time it was over to celebrate with family and friends on the field. What a day for Westburg.
Futures Game bound: The Orioles had a host of talented young players that could have been selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game. Bowie’s Coby Mayo could have been an easy pick or maybe Norfolk outfielder Colton Cowser.
The game, pitting players from American League affiliates against the National League, is a seven-inning contest set for Saturday, July 8 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
The Orioles will be well represented by High-A Aberdeen’s Jackson Holliday and Triple-A Norfolk’s Heston Kjerstad.
Holliday began this year with Low Single-A Delmarva and moved up to Aberdeen in late April. In 63 games between the teams, he has hit .325/.463/.531/.994 with 14 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 56 runs, 20 steals and 47 RBIs. Holliday has walked as many times as he has fanned (57).
The 19-year-old son of former big league All-Star Matt Holliday was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. On Sunday night he was elevated to the No. 1 prospect in baseball in the top 100 via MLBPipeline.com.
He will be joined in Seattle by Kjerstad, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of the University of Arkansas.
Kjerstad began his year with Bowie and moved to Triple-A Norfolk and in 63 games between the two clubs has hit .304/.377/.579/.956 with 15 doubles, 15 homers and 28 RBIs. He is No. 40 on that MLBPipeline top 100.
A time to give back: The Orioles are partnering with each affiliate – the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, Double-A Bowie Baysox, High-A Aberdeen IronBirds, and Low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds – to complete a service project in their communities this week, as well as in the communities of Frederick, Md., Sarasota, Fla., and Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.
Current Orioles players and coaches, top prospects, broadcasters, members of the front office, Orioles Alumni, and the Oriole Bird will participate in the service projects. For more information, visit Orioles.com/WeekOfService.
The Orioles began their Orange & Black Gives Back Week of Service on Monday with community development projects in the Aberdeen, Delmarva, and Frederick communities.
Orioles players, coaches, and top prospects, as well as Orioles Hall of Famer and Community Ambassador Boog Powell, members of the front office, and the Oriole Bird all participated in yesterday's service projects, which included assembling homework packs for the Harford County Education Foundation in Aberdeen, creating care packages for active military members and first responders in Delmarva, and hosting a school supplies drive and writing notes of encouragement for public school students in Frederick.
The Orange & Black Gives Back Week of Service will continue over the next two days with events in the Bowie, Norfolk, Sarasota, and Dominican Republic communities.