Leftovers for breakfast


The Orioles haven’t announced their non-roster invites to major league spring training, but it must be on this month’s agenda. A list that can be updated later depending on future transactions.

They didn’t need to protect Jackson Holliday, Connor Norby and Coby Mayo in the Rule 5 draft, with the latter two eligible next winter. All three could be added to the 40-man roster this year to eliminate that task.

They were camp invites last year, with no chance of heading north for Opening Day. Holliday seems to have the best shot this spring despite his age and limited experience at Triple-A Norfolk. Norby and Mayo are waiting for their opportunities and hopeful that the Orioles can make room.

Norby is a second baseman with some corner outfield starts. Mayo is a corner infielder who appears blocked by Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and others at third base and Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O’Hearn at first.

Mayo also will be working out in right field, a new position for him. Can’t hurt to try it and maybe provide another way to get him on the roster.

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Jordan Westburg on playing for Buck Britton: “He meant everything"

westburg swing v CIN

Former Orioles closer Zack Britton didn’t pitch this summer after failing to reach agreement on a free-agent contract, providing him with the opportunity to spend more time with a family that’s grown to include four children ranging in age from nine to two. And to more easily follow along on his older brother’s journey to a Triple-A championship.

He knew that Buck Britton was wired to coach and manage. That the short-circuiting of the former infielder’s playing career wasn’t the end of his baseball life.

It was just the beginning.

The Tides set a franchise record with 90 victories, won their first International League title since 1985 and secured their first Triple-A crown since 1983.  Britton was selected as the league’s Manager of the Year, following his award in 2019 with Double-A Bowie. He’s 164-135 in two seasons with Norfolk and 381-312 in five years in the Orioles’ system, beginning in 2018 at Single-A Delmarva.

The gig fits like a fielder’s glove.

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MLB Network analyst talks about possible winter plan for the Orioles


One thing that has been true about fans throughout Birdland for a long time: They love it when national media reporters and outlets say nice things about their team, and some get really hacked when they do not. Or say something perceived as a slight.

My opinion is that MLB Network was on the O’s bandwagon pretty much throughout the 2023 season. The coverage was extensive and they were bullish on the Orioles just about from the start to the end of the season.

That continues even after the Orioles got swept three in a row by Texas in the American League Division Series.

A theme about the Orioles is that the team is just beginning its window to chase championships for the next few Octobers and maybe longer.

But on the network on Friday, former major league general manager Dan O’Dowd had a few suggestions for the Orioles to consider this winter. It will not come as a surprise that one of them is that the club should add to its major league roster by making deals from their fertile and No. 1-ranked farm system.

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Notes on Westburg's debut, Future Game selections and more

Westburg whites

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.

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Two farm pitchers taken down the draft board that are having big seasons in 2023


As the Orioles look to grow some arms on the farm for the big league team, under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, they have not used high draft picks on pitchers. They have taken just one before the fifth round of the last four drafts. And that pitcher, Nolan McLean taken in round three last year, went unsigned and the O’s will get a comp selection for that in the coming MLB Draft.

But in two recently promoted pitchers having big years on the farm this season, they are finding that they could identify someone they liked down the board in the draft and still have them develop into good pitchers.

Now we see if they can take that all the way to the big leagues.

In 2023, it's so far and so good for 24-year-old right-hander Justin Armbruester, selected in round 12 of the 2021 draft from New Mexico. And add to him right-hander Alex Pham, 23, taken in that same draft in round 19 from the University of San Francisco.

Among O’s farm pitchers with 40 or more innings this season, Armbruester ranks first in ERA, Ryan Long is second and Pham is third.

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