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Orioles minor league recap 7/9: Jordan Westburg goes yard again

The star shortstop prospect shines in a Norfolk loss, while Aberdeen and Delmarva win with late-inning offensive outbursts.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

Triple-A: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins) 6, Norfolk Tides 3

Welcome to your daily Gunnar Henderson/Jordan Westburg Triple-A update. Henderson did not start, but Westburg (Orioles #5 prospect, MLB Top 100 #94) was back at it again Friday night, going 2-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Westburg’s three-run laser in the third inning was his seventh of the season at Triple-A, 16th overall, and put Norfolk ahead 3-1. It was a majestic blast that deserves to be seen by all.

However, Westburg’s heroics weren’t enough for a Tides victory, as the bullpen surrendered the lead in the sixth inning and the offense around Westburg left much to be desired. Reliever Tim Naughton gave up a two-run single followed by a two-run home run to turn a 3-1 lead into a 5-3 deficit. Blaine Knight gave up another home run in the seventh as the Tides only mustered two hits off the Jacksonville bullpen after the Westburg home run.

The bullpen meltdown overshadowed another strong start from Matt Harvey. Making his first start at Norfolk after a strong start 10 days ago for Bowie, the former MLB All-Star threw 5.2 innings while allowing four hits, two earned runs and striking out three. As our own Alex Church wrote this week, continued success at the minor league level may earn Harvey an opportunity to fight for his place in the Orioles rotation (once his 60-game suspension is over).

Box Score

Double-A: Somerset Patriots 3 (Yankees), Bowie Baysox 2

Continuing the trend from Triple-A, this game saw great early pitching spoiled by a later bullpen collapse. The Baysox got eight shutout innings out of the duo of opener Antonio Velez (2.0 IP) and Garrett Stallings (6.0 IP, 7 Ks) to lead Bowie into the ninth with a 2-0 lead. Then they turned things over to Shelton Perkins for the save and things got ugly. Perkins allowed a leadoff walk followed by a one-out walk and a run-scoring double to set up the Baysox heartbreak. Blake Perkins of the Patriots tied the game on a fielder’s choice and then the winning run scored on a throwing error by Bowie shortstop Joseph Ortiz (#13 prospect). Unlike at the major league level, this walk-off did not inspire any positive emotions for Birdland.

Offensively it was a sparse day for the Baysox. J.D. Mundy hit a sacrifice fly to score Ortiz in the third, and Cesar Prieto (#10 prospect) singled in a run in the 5th inning. Top prospects Connor Norby (#9 prospect) and Colton Cowser (#3 prospect, #42 in the Top 100) combined to go 1-7 with a run scored and a walk. Outfielder Hudson Haskin led the Baysox with two hits, including a double.

Box Score

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 4, Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) 2

The IronBirds got a strong outing from Jean Pinto (#28 prospect) out of the bullpen and a timely offensive outburst in the seventh to rally past the Cyclones. Pinto threw five innings in relief, only allowing three hits and one run while striking out seven. The victorious outing for the Venezuelan extended a recent streak of six straight appearances of 4+ innings pitched while allowing one earned run or less. The righty also has 31 strikeouts over those 26 innings.

Pinto’s pitching prowess put the IronBirds in a position to come from behind with a four-run inning in the seventh. TT Bowens opened the Aberdeen scoring with a two-run triple and then late scored on a Shayne Fontana single. Fontana then scored on an Andres Angulo double to stretch the lead out to 4-1. That trio combined to go 4-12 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

Box Score

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 8, Salem Red Sox (Red Sox) 7

We close things out with your daily Heston Kjerstad (#8 prospect) report from Delmarva. The former No.2 overall pick continued to rake Friday night versus Salem, going 3-3 with a double, an RBI, a run scored and two walks. The perfect showing raised his average to .468 and his OPS to 1.207. To put that in perspective, the league leader for batting average (among those with enough at-bats to qualify) is hitting .318. It certainly seems like a matter of days before Kjerstad gets the call up to Aberdeen.

Outside of Kjerstad’s usual impeccable showing, this game featured plenty of drama for the Shorebirds. After loading the bases in the top of the seventh, two walks, a ground out and a two-run double from Noelberth Romero turned a 3-2 Delmarva deficit into a 6-3 Shorebirds advantage. However, the bullpen could not hold that lead, as Salem loaded the bases for themselves in the ninth. Two singles and a passed ball later and the game was tied at 7. This set up for the most appropriate ending in the ninth, as the third bases-loaded walk of the game brought home Stiven Acevedo and walked things off for Delmarva.

Box Score

Saturday’s Scheduled Games

  • Triple-A: at Jacksonville, 6:35 pm. Starting pitcher: Bruce Zimmermann (1-0, 4.91 ERA)
  • Double-A: at Somerset, 7:05 pm. Starting pitcher: Justin Armbruester (0-0, 2.77 ERA)
  • High-A: at Brooklyn, 6:00 pm. Starting pitcher: TBD
  • Low-A: vs Salem, 7:05 pm. Starting pitcher: TBD