The Orioles today announced the winners of their player development and scouting awards for 2022, including infielder JORDAN WESTBURG as the club’s top minor league player and right-handed pitcher RYAN WATSON as the club’s top minor league pitcher. Aberdeen Manager ROBERTO MERCADO and Area Scout SCOTT WALTER will also be honored by the organization. The award winners will be recognized in an on-field ceremony prior the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, October 4, with awards presented by Director of Player Development MATT BLOOD, Director of Minor League Operations KENT QUALLS, and Director of Draft Operations BRAD CIOLEK.
Westburg, 23, slashed .265/.355/.496 (144-for-544) with 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 96 runs scored, 106 RBI, 70 walks, and 12 stolen bases in 138 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He led Orioles minor leaguers in doubles, extra-base hits (69), total bases (270), and RBI. He also finished second in the organization in hits and home runs. After being promoted to the Tides on June 6, he led the International League with 74 RBI, 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. The former 2020 Compensation A pick out of Mississippi State University became the first O’s minor leaguer with 100+ RBI in a season since Jason Fransz drove in 111 for Single-A Delmarva in 2005. Westburg is ranked as the 77th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline and the 90th-best prospect by Baseball America.
Watson, 24, was 7-5 with one save and a 3.44 ERA (41 ER/107.1 IP), allowing 89 hits, 45 total runs, 16 home runs, nine hit batters, 29 walks, and 108 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .223 average (89-for-399) in 27 games (18 starts) between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed just two hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts across 13.0 scoreless innings in three games (one start) to begin the season for the Baysox and was named the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April. The former free agent signee in a round-shortened draft in 2020 out of Auburn University finished fourth in the organization in innings pitched, and his ERA ranked second among Orioles minor leaguers with at least 80 innings pitched.
Mercado has been named the winner of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Player Development Award, named for the late Orioles coach and manager who is widely regarded as the architect of “The Oriole Way.” Each year, a minor league staff member who exemplifies Ripken’s qualities as an instructor is recognized with the award. Mercado enjoyed a successful introduction to professional ball after spending the previous 17 years coaching in the high school ranks in his home state of Connecticut, part of two winters in Australia and New Zealand (Goodwill Series), as well as seven summers in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He led the IronBirds to their first playoff appearance as a High-A club, and first overall since 2013, after winning the South Atlantic League North first half with a 43-23 record. The team finished with the second-best overall record in the league at 78-54. His Aberdeen club advanced to the SAL Championship Series before falling in a winner-take-all third game to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Mercado was instrumental in creating a positive culture and learning environment for the many prospects he managed. Twenty-seven total players were promoted to Double-A Bowie under his watch and 19 of those made their Double-A debuts this season.
Walter was named the Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award, named in honor of the man who spent 33 years in various scouting capacities with the Orioles beginning with their move from St. Louis in 1954. Walter has been a key member of the Orioles’ scouting operations since the fall of 2010, patrolling a large portion of California that ranges from Los Angeles to Northern California and Northern Nevada. Some of his recent signees includes current Major Leaguer KYLE STOWERS (Stanford) and 2022 Compensation A selection DYLAN BEAVERS (California, Berkeley).
2022 AWARD WINNERS
Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year: Jordan Westburg (Bowie/Norfolk)
Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Ryan Watson (Bowie/Norfolk)
Cal Ripken, Sr. Player Development Award: Roberto Mercado (Aberdeen)
Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award: Scott Walter