Minor Monday: Westburg eyeing future as Orioles shortstop - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Minor Monday: Westburg eyeing future as Orioles shortstop

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Jordan Westburg has a friendly competition with Gunnar Henderson about who is going to be the future shortstop for the Orioles.

One of those players might move to third base, but the Orioles have to like the potential shape of the left side of the infield in the next couple of years.

Henderson, 19, was promoted to High-A Aberdeen from Low-A Delmarva on Sunday where he will join Westburg, 22, so the competition will heat up again.

“Me and Gunnar … both infielders, want to play shortstop at the next level,” Westburg said. “[At Delmarva] we had that little friendly pact like, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna let you play short, you better not let me play short. Let’s continue to push each other.’ Iron sharpens iron.”

Orioles third base/infield coach Tony Mansolino likes what he sees from both players.

“Gunnar is a little younger than Westy, but they are just physical infielders,” Mansolino said during spring training. “As you watch them, I think when you see a bigger kid, you dream on these kids and you want to compare them to the kid in L.A., [Corey] Seager. You know, that type of a middle infielder body. And as you watch these guys right now, you see traits of that.”

Westburg earned his promotion June 1st from Delmarva to Aberdeen by hitting .366/.484/.592 for the Shorebirds. Westburg is still getting acclimated to his surroundings in Aberdeen.

“It’s going well. It was pretty smooth,” Westburg said. “It’s pretty nice. The first week I got to go up was a home week so that was good to get settled in for about a week and now we’re on the back half of about a two-week road trip so I’m looking forward to getting back to Aberdeen and everybody else is because it’s been a long two weeks but that’s just part of it.”

Westburg is still making adjustments for the IronBirds because the pitching has been tougher and pitchers are attacking him differently. Westburg is batting .274 and hit his first home run for the IronBirds in a 19-4 loss to Asheville on Sunday. Westburg also has 13 RBIs in 15 games for Aberdeen.

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“The consistent [velocity] and then the ability to throw strikes,” Westburg said. “When I  was in Low-A there were a lot of walks. In High-A, guys throw more strikes, they’re more in the zone, they can command their secondary stuff better as well as that better philosophy so there’s been a bit of an adjustment. I’m making adjustments in the box myself to have success but they are all learning experiences so I look forward to keep getting after it.”

Westburg was selected by the Orioles in the competitive balance round (No. 30 overall) of the 2020 draft after batting .317/.432/.517 (19-for-60) with six doubles, two home runs, 17 runs, and 11 RBIs in 16 games during his junior season at Mississippi State in 2020.

Westburg is ranked as the Orioles’ sixth-best prospect by MLB.com The Orioles think invited him to spring training, an experience he savored.

“Just getting to be around some of the older guys, the pro guys, and some of the staff members as well,” Westburg said. “You just pick up little things about the game that you might never see if you don’t get those experiences. Getting to be in the dugout for the big, big games and even getting to play the last two or three innings was an awesome experience.

“I didn’t expect to go out there and set the world on fire or tear the cover off the baseball. Just being able to take the failures and the successes as learning experiences was probably the biggest thing for me.”

It’s an exciting time to be in the Orioles ‘minor league system. The club has a number of highly touted players throughout the minor league affiliates.

“I think the organization as a whole is pretty exciting when you think about it,” Westburg said. “The talent that we have, you know, Low-A, High-A, Double-A, Triple-A, it’s unbelievable. I feel like every day I see something on social media that one of our prospects or one of our guys is having a great day on the plate or in the field just doing something special.”

A winning culture is being developed at the minor league level. Only Norfolk, at 15-24, has a losing record. Bowie is 27-13, Delmarva 25-15, and Aberdeen 23-17.

Westburg hopes the winning continues when the prospects reach Baltimore.

“It’s awesome,” Westburg said. “It’s easy to show up to the ballpark when you have a great team and you have a  chance to win and that’s what we’re doing right now. It makes baseball way more fun,  especially when you’re on the road and the days do get longer. As long as you can find a way  to win, it’s just awesome.”

One of Westburg’s goals is to cut down on strikeouts. He tries to have a plan each time he comes to the plate. He also hopes to keep moving up.

“I would love to get as high as I can this year,” Westburg said. “Honestly, I think that’s the goal for everybody, to get to the big leagues as quickly as possible. Obviously, that might be quite a stretch to get there this year but just learn as much as I can along the way and, hopefully, at the end of the season I can get up to Double-A and, if not, it’s great here.

“I’m going to learn a lot and get a lot of playing time here and have a lot of great experiences. So, either way, I’m in a good situation and as long as I can be myself and not put too much pressure on myself, I’m going to have a great year.”

Road warriors: The Bowie Baysox returned home to Prince George’s Stadium on Tuesday after their longest road trip in team history (12 games). On Sunday, they lost to visiting Akron, 3-2, in 10 innings.  In his second start of the homestand, Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs and two hits with eight strikeouts in five innings. In his first start on Tuesday. Rodriguez gave up two runs on four hits, striking out six , walking one in 4 2/3.

Reliever Manny Barreda allowed a run in the 10th and took the loss for Bowie. Bowie went 8-4 on the road trip against Hartford and Binghamton and is 6-0 in series this season. Bowie is playing 12 games at home through June 27th before hitting the road at the end of the month.

Hitting streak ends: Triple-A Norfolk infielder Jahmai Jones had his season-high 10-game hitting streak end in a 6-5 loss to Durham on Sunday. He went 0-for-2 with three walks. Jones is batting .348 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 69 at-bats. Jones was acquired by the Orioles from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb. Jones had an oblique injury earlier this season and is a candidate to earn a promotion to the Orioles.

Promotions: Infielder JC Escarra was promoted to Norfolk from Bowie, where he batted .219 with four homers and 17 RBIs.

Right-handed pitcher Kyle Brnovich, infielder Toby Welk and outfielder Kyle Stowers were promoted from Aberdeen to Bowie. Brnovich went 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in eight starts. Welk batted .265 with two homers and 19 RBIs. Stowers hit .275 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

Outfielders Trevor Kehe and Dylan Harris moved from Delmarva to Aberdeen. Kehe batted .207 with four homers and 14 RBIs. Harris batted .224 with one homer and 14 RBIs.

Infielder Yorkislandy Alvarez and outfielder Lamar Sparks join Delmarva.

Outfielder Yusniel Diaz will return to Norfolk on Tuesday after a rehab stint with Bowie where he batted .278.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    June 21, 2021 at 7:25 am

    Great news to hear, Mansolino might want to remember the original big SS instead of a Dodger when making comparisons…also, he’s a Vandy guy, maybe he can sway the 5th pick later, no below slot guys, lol…go O’s…

  2. Orioles20

    June 21, 2021 at 8:18 am

    How come the orioles affiliates don’t play on Mondays? Some teams do. I keep hearing fans complaining about under slot. If Elias hadn’t gone under slot for Kjersted chances are they wouldn’t have been able to afford Westburg. I understand it can be a gamble if your targeting a specific player but I think it allows a team to
    maximize its talent. They’ll probably go under slot again this year because they have five picks in like the first eighty picks and only have like 11.5 million to spend for the entire twenty rounds

    • CalsPals

      June 21, 2021 at 8:40 am

      I believe the eastern teams have Mondays off, western teams have Wednesdays off, it’s new this yr…go O’s…

      • Orioles20

        June 21, 2021 at 8:42 am

        Interesting. Thank you. Makes sense

    • CalsPals

      June 21, 2021 at 8:45 am

      No problem…go O’s…

    • Hallbe62

      June 21, 2021 at 12:24 pm

      O’s20……99% chance they do. Elias has done this since he learned the strategy from Jeff Luhnow (who is now out of baseball, suspension over) in the Cardinals Organization.
      The most famous recent example of this working out extremely well for Luhnow/Elias was with the Astros back in 2012 (their 1st yr. there) Houston had the top pick in that draft so whoever they picked was going to be highly ranked. That said, Byron Buxton was far and away the top prospect in that class, but Houston selected Carlos Correa with their top pick because they liked him and knew he would sign for below the slot value. Houston also picked 41st in that draft, and so they wanted to grab a high schooler who slipped with that pick and having savings from their Correa pick would be a huge boon to their underslotting strategy. They found that HS’er who slipped with the 41st pick in Lance McCullers. Kept him out of College and on the Stroh’s farm by paying him a few bucks more than anyone else offered.

      Both players were big contributers to future Astro success. So, while I’m not a big fan of underslotting, I do see that under the right circumstances it can work.
      Every draft is a little different. What worked for Luhnow/Elias in 2012, may or may not work for Elias from 2018 – 2025 (O’s Time). We’ll have to wait and see.

      Here’s what I think…..PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING, and more PITCHING. Leiter or Rocker if they are available at the #5 pick.

  3. Nellie

    June 21, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Ok, I want to talk about what REALLY made the O’s so successful and enjoyable to watch from the mid 60’s to the mid 80’s. Pitching and defense as our old and greatly missed friend, Rex Barney, would say almost daily.

    I’n not sure what the “plan” is for either of these categories. Drafting pitchers in the first few rounds doesn’t seem to be a priority. And while there is constant chatter about all of our talented prospects, not much is said about their defense. Case in point, J. Jones has some terrific offensive stats with Norfolk at 2B. However, I see that he has at least 5 errors in his limited time back from the disabled list. Does that mean he’s another Stewart and or Mountcastle?

    Can you, or anyone else, go into more depth about this, Rich?

    • Mercy>Judgment

      June 21, 2021 at 1:37 pm

      Interesting stats – the Orioles actually committed more errors per game from 1966-1983 (0.70 per game) than recently 0.57 per game 2010-2021 – I understand lots of folks will say “But errors and fielding pct aren’t the only elements of good fielding” to which I would reply true, but errors and fielding pct make up a big portion of good fielding and we often tend to romanticize/idealize back in the good old days whether or not stats support our stance on how things were back in the good old days.

      DJ Stewart is actually an above average fielder in LF this season, but below average in RF. Mountcastle’s fielding at 1B isn’t too horrible – he actually ranks 12th in feilding out of 45 MLB 1B with at least 100 innings at the position. Jones career 0.951 fielding pct at 2B is about 0.030 worse than the MLB average of 0.982 – over an entire season playing close to full time, that would probably mean an extra 4-5 errors compared to an average fielding 2B.

      • Hallbe62

        June 21, 2021 at 2:22 pm

        Excellent input M>J

        Could that .13 fielding % gap between O’s team (66-83) and O’s team (10-21) be closed at all if you used the same time interval for both eras.
        For the glory years you chose, those stats comprise 17 seasons.

        How would those numbers look if you used the best 11 consecutive seasons (fielding %) from that 66-83 era instead of the entire 17 seasons ?
        Are those extra 6 seasons dragging the Glory teams (66-83) fielding % down slightly ?

        I love your moniker. And enjoy your input.

  4. Balt mp

    June 21, 2021 at 9:37 am

    This is what Elias excels at . The only decision I can’t stomach is Hyde and the Gonzalez Hyde had no track record and Gonzalez not a good won .

    On the minors people have got to understand there was nothing behind Mountcastle. In two and a half years he has drafted well brought in legitimate international talent and is opening a complex in the Dominica . I just don’t know what some fans want you have to stop half assing it stop bringing high priced past their prime stars get and develope your own talent and then sprinkle in a premium in their PRIME free agent talent .

    As O 20 says Elias has his work cut out for him 20 rounds and 4 picks in the top 81 and only 11.5 million to do it . It will be interesting if he goes over that amount for top talent . To put it in context if they were to take a Leiter or a Rocker you would be looking at a bonus of 8.5 to 9 million out of that 11.5 and this is a fair system wow !

    • Hallbe62

      June 21, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Balt mp
      I believe the slot system is only in effect for rounds 1-10. But as you mentioned, we have a bunch of picks early and often leading up to the 10th round and only 11.5M to get them all signed.
      I, too am scratching my head on this current Draft system. It seems to me that the Players Union would be screaming bloody murder, while owners laugh all the way to the bank. College baseball teams are happy with it. Highly rated HS players slip, don’t get the signing bonuses they think they deserve, flip off MLB, and dash off to College on a scholarship.

  5. Baltimore Castaway

    June 21, 2021 at 10:57 am

    It is very good to see that the Orioles MILB affiliates are mostly all doing very well.

    While they have more talent in the system than most of the last 25+ years, they still need more. This was exemplified when DL Hall went down w a possible left elbow injury..

    They will have twice as many strong prospects in the system by this time next year. The Amateur Draft is coming up in several weeks (5th Slot this year and likely top 2 next June). Plus they will be announcing a strong International Class next January. I am Bullish for this teams future…

  6. willmiranda

    June 21, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for the info Todd. A couple questions. Is there any easy way to get the minor league box scores online? Some time ago, I heard
    a minor league exec (non-Oriole) opine that that the chances of a low-A player reaching the majors was about 10%. Do you have any info or insight into the big league chances of minor league players at any level? I ask because I read comments that assume that fairly large numbers of O’s minor leaguers will simply climb the ladder en masse to Baltimore, much like high school freshman moving up to the varsity.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 21, 2021 at 12:55 pm

      Todd may have a better way, but you can get the boxes through each team’s milb site.
      Here you go:

      Norfolk: https://www.milb.com/norfolk/scores/2021-06-19
      Bowie: https://www.milb.com/bowie/scores/2021-06-20
      Aberdeen: https://www.milb.com/aberdeen/scores
      Delmarva: https://www.milb.com/scores/low-a/carolina-league/

    • Mercy>Judgment

      June 21, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      www dot milb dot com slash scores, then select Baltimore Orioles as organization and it will provide information on the Orioles four minor league teams for the date you select. One of the options beneath each game shown for the date selected is the box score.

    • Mercy>Judgment

      June 21, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Regarding the 10% question…Quora “What-percentage-of-minor-league-baseball-players-will-ever-reach-the-majors?” has some good info on what % of minor league players reach the big leagues. Short answers: one person replied about a studied they conducted which showed 10% of drafted players between 1965 and 2011 made it to the MLB; another person used data from baseball encyclopedia which showed total number of MLB players divided by total number of minor league players was 6.25% or 1 in 16.

      • willmiranda

        June 21, 2021 at 2:26 pm

        Thanks for the thoughtful response. I value your judgment, but not as much as your mercy.

    • ToddKarpovich

      June 22, 2021 at 9:09 am

      Yes, you can go to the minor league affiliates web pages and the box score is at the top of the page. You can also click on the schedule and get older box scores.
      It’s difficult for many Single-A players to make the jump to MLB but it depends on the depth. The Orioles could be the exception to that 10% rule.

  7. CalsPals

    June 21, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    20 year old #1 prospect coming up to Ray’s, does that make Adley # 1 or do they wait til the next season?…go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      June 21, 2021 at 3:03 pm

      I would never have said this at the beginning of this season because at that time I really did think AR would be a September call up. However, with the way things are playing out here’s what I see in my crystal ball. I believe Cumberland will get the call up in September (if not sooner) and I think the only catcher on the club now who will also be on the club beginning next season is Wynns. I don’t see them calling up AR while Severino is still with the club. They’re paying Severino to be the starter and I don’t see that changing until after this season. I think if AR breaks camp with them next spring, which I’ll be surprised if that happens, their catchers will be Wynns, Cumberland and AR. If he’s left in the minors to begin the season, my more likely scenario, it’ll be Wynns, Cumberland and maybe Ciuffo. When AR arrives in Baltimore I think they’ll want him to arrive ready to be the #1 guy and play regularly.
      The guy who might get screwed in all this is Cumberland. He looks good.

  8. dlgruber1

    June 21, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    I’ll open this question up to anyone out there. I’ve been to hundreds of games in Baltimore in my lifetime but not once have I ever spent the night. We’re gonna be in Baltimore on a weekend in August while the O’s are home. I’m looking for somewhere to stay within walking distance of Inner Harbor and OPACY. Other than the Hilton across the street from OPACY I’ve never noticed other hotels, probably because I’ve never needed to look for one. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I’ve heard that the Inner Harbor area is not the best area any longer but, maybe I’m naive, it’s still the general area I’m hoping to stay near.

    • Hallbe62

      June 21, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      Haven’t lived in Baltimore since I joined the Corps in 1980. My last visit was Gm 2 of the 2014 ALDS vs. Detroit. Va.Beach to Baltimore isn’t a great drive so I don’t get there as much as I should. We’ve always stayed at the Holiday Inn and never had an issue. From my daily reads though, it seems that things have changed a little for the worse since my last visit.

      Enjoy yourself and stay safe.

    • Shamus

      June 21, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      Keep your head in a swivel my friend

    • Shamus

      June 21, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      On a swivel

    • Icterus fan

      June 21, 2021 at 4:38 pm

      Shamus, I use that expression every time my teenage daughter drives into the city. Any city.
      Keep your head on a swivel.
      LOL.

    • Shamus

      June 21, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      Did the same for my three boys. Sound advice wherever you are.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 21, 2021 at 5:46 pm

      Dave, there are several other hotels within a few blocks. Besides, the Hilton, there’s a Marriott and a Hampton Inn. There’s also a Renaissance a few blocks away. There are also some hotels in Harbor East, which is a nice area and lots of restaurants. It’s a bit of a walk, but a really cool place to be. There’s a Marriott, a Courtyard by Marriott and a Hilton Gardens and a few others there.

      https://www.baltimorebaseball.com/2020/11/05/journey-around-majors-oriole-park-camden-yards-still-best/

    • 33d St

      June 21, 2021 at 10:55 pm

      I’ve stayed at that Hampton Inn that’s literally a few steps away from OPACY and plan to again next time I’m in town.

  9. CGarcia

    June 21, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    I hope with Gunnar being at Aberdeen, it will push Westburg to be better. Don’t get me wrong, he’s having a good season. However, he’s 22, his number are not top 100 prospects worthy in A ball. Needs to hit more HRs – the modern MLB SS has power.

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