The Orioles have routinely signed a veteran second baseman to handle the load at the keystone in recent years as the crop of high-end infield prospects the Orioles have continued to develop. That's no longer the case this year, as the kids are ready to take charge.
The Orioles have no shortage of players who can handle second base, but how good are the options they have? Let's find out.
It's hard to argue against the assertion that Jordan Westburg has played his way into the starting gig at second base this season. He got off to a hot start at Triple A in 2023 and broke down the door to the majors, getting the call at the end of June.
Westburg didn't go back down after that, ending his rookie season with a .260/.311/.404 slash line with three home runs and 17 doubles in 228 plate appearances over 68 games. He added excellent defense at both second and third base, committing just one error in 324 innings in the field. He looks like the second baseman of the future, and he'll get every chance to prove it this season.
The top backup option appears to be burgeoning utility player Ramón Urías, who is only a burgeoning player because he's playing a lot more positions now, not because he's good. He was middling with his bat last season, hitting just four home runs to go with a .264/.328/.375 slash line in 116 games.
His defense took a step back from a gold glove campaign in 2022 as well. He went from 7 OAA at third base in 2022 to a paltry -9 in 2023 and had -1 OAA at first base. His defense value at second was his best, being worth 2 OAA in 133 innings at second. That's what makes him the top backup.
The Orioles have plenty of options not on the 40-man roster that can play second base. The most notable prospect is Connor Norby, who had a strong season with Norfolk in 2023 and could break the door down to the majors if he continues to rake at Harbor Park.
Super utility player Terrin Vavra is also an option. If you forgot about him, you wouldn't be alone, as he was lost in the shuffle at the major league level, sent down to Triple A, then missed a ton of time with an injury before being outrighted off the 40-man roster at the end of the season. I wonder what the best way to playing time in the majors could be for Vavra. Maybe it's second base.
The Orioles also have Greg Cullen and Errol Robinson in the mix, and you might see them in spring training games. Robinson was signed to a minor league contract in the offseason and appears to just be a roster filler for the Tides, while Cullen has been in the Orioles system since 2021. Neither of these two guys are near the mix for major league playing time. If they're playing in the majors in 2024, something has gone terribly wrong.
There is a clear-cut starter at second base in 2024, and it's not a veteran like Rougned Odor or Adam Frazier. Jordan Westburg is the undisputed starter and he'll likely have a firm hold on the position all year long. It's different territory for the Orioles, and it's a good thing.