Meet the Baby Birds: Jordan Westburg
By Brian Barr
Meet Jordan Westburg. Westburg has been a standout player on a star studded Norfolk Tides team in 2023. He has been so good that many fans have started to question why his is not already with the Baltimore Orioles. Let's take a deeper look in this installment of Meet the Baby Birds.
Westburg is another collegiate talent in a long line selected by Mike Elias and the Orioles. He attended Mississippi State University for three years and showed improvement in each season. Westburg was successful enough in his junior season that he decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 MLB draft.
The Orioles selected Westburg in the first round with the #30 overall pick. Westburg was the second player the O's selected after taking Heston Kjerstad 2nd overall. MiLB.com reported that when Elias was interviewed about selecting Westburg he stated “You look at the history of the Draft, and middle infielders, especially shortstops from big conference schools, every round, they are the smartest picks you can make. You should really take as many as you can. And we really like Westburg.”
Westburg immediately proved Elias correct when he received his first professional assignment in Delmarva. Westburg dominated opposition to the tune of a 1.075 OPS and was promoted to High-A Aberdeen after just 20 games. He spent 62 games with the Iron Birds and finished the season with Double-A Bowie. The biggest surprise was that Westburg hit 15 home runs in his first professional season (112 games) spread out over three levels. Westburg hit only 10 home runs in his collegiate career (124 games).
In 2022, Westburg continued to mash with nine homers in 47 Double-A games before being promoted to Triple-A Norfolk. Even though Westburg was already hitting for power beyond what his college career suggested, when he got to Norfolk Westburg hit another gear. Westburg hit 18 home runs in 91 games with the Tides in 2022 and he didn't sacrifice anything to get the power. Westburg had a .242/.336/.456 slash line in Double-A, and jumped that up to .274/.361/.508 when he got to Triple-A. He even added nine steals in Norfolk, which was the most Westburg had at any level since he had nine in Aberdeen.
2023 has seen Westburg continue to improve. As of May 21, Westburg was slashing .316/.388/.618 with a 1.007 OPS, and has continued to run, adding four more steals. The Birds have certainly taken notice of the offensive ability that Westburg brings. Westburg was drafted as a shortstop and only played second base, shortstop and third base until 2023. This season has seen the Orioles giving him chances in both corner outfield positions to increase his value to the big club in the way they did with Terrin Vavra.
Westburg has climbed his was all the way up to the ladder to become the Orioles #3 prospect (#50 overall), in what is arguably still the best farm system in baseball after Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez outplayed their prospect status. The Birds have had a need for a middle infielder this season and Joey Ortiz got the call over Westburg.
Ortiz was having a strong season in Norfolk as well, and is the O's #6 prospect (#81 overall), but it can be argued that he was selected over Westburg because he was already on the 40 man roster while Westburg was not. With the way Westburg is playing, the Orioles will have to clear a spot for him soon. I can't see any way the Birds don't make a move with Westburg by the all-star break.