The role of Jordan Westburg with the Baltimore Orioles has recently become more clear. Through his impressive play and the trade deadline passing, Westburg has seemingly taken a stronghold on the starting second base position. Westburg started the season with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides but was expected to make his debut this season. After tearing the cover off the ball with the Tides this season, Westburg finally got "the call" and made his debut on June 26.
After a memorable debut that saw Westburg get his first major league hit, run and RBI, Jordan settled into a near everyday role with the Orioles. He proved his valued to the team by batting .300 with eight runs and six RBI's in his first 11 games in the majors, while playing strong defense at both second and third base. His play on both sides of the ball allowed the Orioles to utilize Gunnar Henderson more at shortstop while Jorge Mateo has struggled.
Even though Westburg was playing well, the Orioles are full of talented players and didn't seem to have enough spots for everyone. Players like Ramon Urias and Adam Frazier, while not future cornerstones of the franchise, have played well enough to remain in the lineup. Urias, who is coming off a gold glove season at third base, could be having another gold glove caliber season now that the award is also given to a utility player.
Jordan Westburg has played himself into the starting second base job for the Orioles
His power numbers have dropped from last season, but his hitting is up a tick and he has earned his playing time. Urias was seeing significant playing time at first base while Ryan Mountcastle was on the IL but with both Mountcastle and Ryan O'Hearn healthy and playing well, that is only an emergency option for Urias at this time.
The biggest obstacle for Westburg in getting playing time has been Adam Frazier. I have been a strong supporter of Frazier this season while much of the Orioles fan base seems split on him. He has been one of the bigger offensive producers for the Birds with a career best 13 homers and 50 RBI's, while adding some clutch hits and homers for a team that has become known for comebacks. Not to mention Frazier's own versatility, being able to fill in as a corner outfielder when the need arises.
The final hurdle Westburg had to clear was simply the trade deadline. While he is a top prospect with lots of potential, if any team could afford to trade a top prospect, it was the Orioles. While Westburg was dealing with a mini slump he was left out of the lineup for consecutive games towards the end of July leading many to believe that he would be the key piece in a trade for a top starter. Instead the O's held on to the budding star and he has thanked them with his performance.
Since the trade deadline passed, Westburg has slashed .375/.423/.583 with one home run, five runs scored and three RBI's. He is on a seven game hitting streak with hits in nine of his last 11 games entering play on Wednesday. In one of the two games Jordan did not record a hit, he only appeared as a pinch hitter.
His fielding has also been exemplary. In 73 fielding chances at the major league level, Westburg has recorded 53 assists, 20 putouts, been part of 10 double plays and has yet to make an error. Westburg seems to have muscled Frazier out of the way and taken hold of the starting second base position. Westburg should continue to hold onto the starting spot as the Orioles make their playoff push.
We have begun to see Jordan Westburg realize some of the potential that made him one of baseball's top prospects. He and fellow rookie Gunnar Henderson comprise arguably the double play combo with the most potential in baseball.
While other top prospects like Joey Ortiz and Jackson Holliday may force Westburg to move around the infield a bit, one thing is for sure: Jordan Westburg will be a star infielder for the Baltimore Orioles for years to come.