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Orioles prospects Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg promoted to Triple-A Norfolk

Two prospects who could be the Orioles SS/3B combo of the future are now only a level away from MLB.

Altoona Curve v Bowie Baysox
GUNNAR HENDERSON!
Photo by 2021 Rodger Wood/Diamond Images via Getty Images

In the wake of the news that Grayson Rodriguez is probably out until September and maybe for the rest of the season, Orioles fans could really use some good prospect news. The team helpfully provided some on Monday afternoon, announcing that two high-ranked infield prospects, Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, have been promoted from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk.

Henderson, the team’s second round pick in the 2019 draft, has had an almost unreal first couple of months of his season at Bowie to earn this promotion. Still only 20 years old until later in the month, he has yet to face a pitcher who is younger than he is, and over 47 games this season has batted .312/.452/.573, with more walks (41) than strikeouts (38).

In moments where I let myself get swept away by hype, which in Henderson’s case has been all moments I’m not trying to seriously report news about him, I’ve taken to referring to his name in all caps - GUNNAR HENDERSON - to express the ongoing excitement. He is rocketing up prospect rankings. Henderson has split time between third base and shortstop this season, with more innings at third base. It’ll be interesting to see how that continues at Norfolk, where the Orioles would presumably want to line him up where he could actually play in Baltimore.

Where Henderson plays could also be impacted by Westburg, the other Bowie infielder who’s earned the promotion. Drafted in the first competitive balance round in 2020, Westburg found his way from Delmarva to Bowie in his first pro season and continued on at Bowie to start this season. After a slow start to the year, he’s now batting .247/.345/.473 and the Orioles have decided it’s time to bring him to Triple-A. Westburg has started at least 13 games at all of second base, third base, and shortstop this season.

It’s an exciting pair of promotions because the Orioles filling out their infield with high-performing prospects is going to be one of the signs of the rebuild project eventually just being an ongoing winning project. Shortstop and third base have been two of the weakest positions in the lineup so far this season, with O’s shortstops - mostly Jorge Mateo - OPSing just .538 and third basemen - mostly Ramón Urías - not much better at .603.

If today’s two promoted prospects can perform well at the next level, it’s not hard to imagine they could be in the Orioles roster picture as soon as next season. You could dream about seeing one or both in Baltimore in September of this year, if you really wanted to.

Henderson and Westburg will both be joining the Tides in Nashville, where the Orioles top affiliate is set to play the Sounds, the top Brewers farm team, for six games starting tomorrow.