It was a nice honor for an Orioles prospect that might be flying a bit under the radar this year. This despite being tied for the organization lead in home runs with 23.
But Connor Norby, Double-A Bowie second baseman, got some recognition yesterday when he was named the Eastern League Player of the Month for August.
Over 26 games during the month, Norby batted .339/.405/.661 with nine homers and 26 RBIs to go with an OPS of 1.066. He led the league in hits, homers, RBIs and total bases in August and ranked second in slugging and OPS.
The 22-year-old Norby is rated as the Orioles’ No. 12 prospect by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com.
“Really has the look of a pure hitter,” Bowie manager Kyle Moore said of Norby before Tuesday’s game at Prince George’s Stadium. “Can really drive the ball to right-center. He can hit a homer to right-center off a really good arm. And so, that puts him in position to hit the best stuff. If you have a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, he can take you deep to right-center. If you have a little wrinkle with off-speed, he can take you deep to left-center.”
Norby was selected by the O’s in round two, No. 41 overall, out of East Carolina in 2021. This season over 102 games between Bowie and high Single-A Aberdeen he has batted .266/.344/.505 with an .849 OPS, 19 doubles, four triples, 23 homers and 58 RBIs.
He is tied for the O’s farm lead in homers with Triple-A infielder Jordan Westburg.
“They are similar hitters,” said Moore. “Both can to damage to the big parts of the field.
“Norby is another guy that doesn’t hit a ball down the lines, so this field doesn’t impact him much at all. When he goes yard, he goes deep from right-center to left-center. That has been most impressive to me – he gives you a super pro at-bat off their best arms and he can leave the park in the gaps.”
Moore said Norby rates well in plate discipline skills with a 9.3 walk rate and 22.1 strikeout rate.
“Really good. Swing decisions here have been in the 90th percentile," Moore said. "He is around like 94 right now (among the best on his team). Doesn’t chase sliders down, which ends up giving him a chance late in the at-bat. You’ll see Norby go 0-2, 1-2 to 2-2, 3-2 a lot, which is a good sign. He doesn’t give away an at-bat just because he gets 0-2 or 1-2 and that is a credit to his swing decisions.”
And Moore added he is very pleased with Norby’s defense, too.
“That was the biggest question coming out of spring training," Moore said. "Can this guy play defense? And I have been extremely impressed with his defense. Everyone felt he would hit and he can hit, but he’s played really good defense at second, great defense at second. Coming from Aberdeen off that turf field, and having some questions about his defense, I didn’t expect him to play as well as he has. He’s been outstanding. Can turn the double play, made some nice backhand plays in the hole. He’s doing it."
Norby had an OPS of .736 in 48 games with Aberdeen and that is .945 in 54 games with Bowie. Since moving from the leadoff spot to mostly second and third in the Bowie batting order on Aug. 18, Norby is batting .375.
Rough night at the Yard: The Orioles were held to just three hits and lost 4-1 to the Blue Jays last night. They lost three of four in the series and are 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays for the final wild card spot.
Ryan Mountcastle's RBI double in the last of the first off Toronto righty Alek Manoah provided Baltimore a 1-0 lead. But O's batters went just 1-for-25 at-bat from the second inning on and that is not nearly going to get it done.
The Orioles were outscored 25-17 in the series and have lost four of five games to fall to 72-65. They open a three-game series Friday night at home with Boston.
Toronto improved to 76-60 overall, to 30-25 versus American League East teams, 6-7 against the Orioles and to 26-17 in the second-half. The Blue Jays are 6-1 on a 10-game road trip and 12-2 in their past 14 road games.