In this edition of Meet the Baby Birds we meet Connor Norby. Norby is another stud infield prospect in a jam-packed Baltimore Orioles farm system. At this time last year, Norby was with the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds and he's now just one step away from Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Let's see what Norby has done to put himself so close to reaching his dream of playing major league baseball.
Meet the Baby Birds: Connor Norby
Norby was selected with the 41st overall pick by the O's in 2021 out of East Carolina University. Connor struggled greatly in his freshman season with the ECU Pirates. After batting below the Mendoza line as a freshman, Norby played summer ball in the Valley Baseball league where everything clicked. Norby returned as a sophomore and batted over .400, but that was a shortened season due to Covid-19.
Norby put any remaining doubts to rest in his junior season when he batted .415/.484/.659 with a 1.143 OPS in 61 games. He also added speed and power during his junior year by swiping 18 bases that season after having only swiped six total going into the season. Norby also mashed 15 home runs, a huge jump from Connor's previous two collegiate season where he had two total.
Norby decided to forgo his senior season and entered the 2021 draft. After being selected in the second round by the Orioles, Norby reported to Rookie ball for a brief stop before finishing the 2021 season with the Delmarva Shorebirds. Norby's numbers in Delmarva weren't exactly eye popping, but he showed enough that the powers that be decided to advance him to the IronBirds to start the 2022 season. Once again, the Orioles front office made the correct call. The front office threw several challenges at Norby that season and he responded by only getting better.
In 49 games with Aberdeen, Norby was good offensively, batting .237/.311/.425 with eight homers and six steals, but great defensively. Norby made only one error in 128 chances at second base for a pristine .992 fielding percentage and was moved to the Double-A Bowie Baysox. In 64 games with Bowie, Norby batted .298/.389/.571 with 17 homers and 10 stolen bases. Norby was again promoted to finish the 2022 season with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. In 9 games with the Tides, Norby hit .359/.405/.718 with four home runs and a 1.123 OPS.
Less than two years after being drafted, Norby, who just turned 23 years old on June 8, is now the Orioles #7 prospect (#84 overall) and is primed to break into the major leagues. He ranks among the leaders on a loaded Tides team in home runs (7), RBI's (38) and runs scored (52), and he leads the team in hits (73) and doubles (18).
Norby recently came under fire when he commented that being traded could lead to a clearer path to the majors.
Rather than run and hide when the backlash began, Norby owned his remarks and posted on Twitter saying the he "...was responding to a question with a real answer for something I’m in no control of. I love this org and hope I’m an Oriole for life. But anything can happen to ANYONE."
I, for one, agree with Norby in his assessment of the situation and think he handled it very well. Norby expressed his love for the Orioles and desire to stay with the team, as well as an understanding that baseball is also a business. We as fans need to remember that Norby is just another kid who's dream of being a major leaguer is at his fingertips and he would do whatever it takes to accomplish his dream.
Norby is correct that if he were in virtually any other farm system, he would have a clearer path to the majors. Players like Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz are in front of Norby, not to mention Coby Mayo just below him in Double A, and the growing presence of Jackson Holliday coming up behind him, making five legitimate candidates for what will only be two spots (second base and shortstop).
Mike Elias has recently stated that the Orioles are looking to be buyers at the trade deadline, and I believe the primary need on the team is starting pitching. The Birds have too many talented players in their farm system to fit onto a major league roster, and not enough talent on the major league roster to not try to improve. Trades will be made, and we can only hope for the best.
One thing that we know for sure is that Connor Norby is a major league talent. I hope that we see him in an Orioles uniform (maybe not the city connect one) by the September call ups, but I wish him the best no matter who he may be playing for.