One of the big anticipated Orioles prospect moves is happening. Jordan Westburg is on the way. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Sunday evening that the team is calling up Westburg, the team’s current #3 prospect by MLB Pipeline along with a league-wide top 100 prospect on basically every list. He will be in the lineup on Monday against the Reds, Passan said.
The team has not officially made any roster move announcement, but when the Orioles-owned television network’s Twitter account is saying “He’s here” with a picture of Westburg, that’s about as close to official as you can get without it actually being official.
Mike Elias roster moves being what they are, we should not assume that this is the 24-year-old Westburg being called up for good. However, if he performs anything in the realm of what he was doing for Triple-A Norfolk, where he batted .295/.372/.567 with an organization-leading 18 home runs, then the righty-batting Westburg certainly ought to stay up for good. That’s no sure thing, of course.
Why now? Cynics are probably already aware that the likely “Super Two” date that would get Westburg four arbitration seasons instead of the usual three should have safely passed a couple of weeks ago. I doubt this fact hurts Westburg’s chances. Another, more team-oriented answer as to why now probably has to do with how Adam Frazier and Jorge Mateo have batted in June, which is to say that for the most part they haven’t.
How the Orioles will squeeze Westburg onto the roster and whose playing time he will take after arriving will both be interesting things to keep an eye on as he’s activated tomorrow and then going forward. Westburg is not on the 40-man roster already, so corresponding moves will have to be made both on the active MLB roster and the 40-man to accommodate Westburg’s arrival.
Although Westburg has played more innings at shortstop than any other position in his career since being drafted by the Orioles with a competitive balance round A pick in the 2020 draft, there is basically no independent site’s scouting report that believes he should play shortstop, or even necessarily third base.
The Orioles have not let “no one else thinks this guy should play this position” stop them at times, as occasional Ryan O’Hearn in right field appearances will show. Maybe they’re just going to do that “lol we can make it work” kind of attitude again. Or maybe Westburg will end up primarily playing the position the scouting industrial complex thinks he should play - second base - at the expense of playing time for Frazier.
This is an awesome season for the Orioles so far, with their 47-29 record being beyond almost anyone’s wildest dreams before the season began. Things have been a bit more stagnant lately, however, as the team was 33-17 after 50 games played and has only gone 14-12 since that time. 14-12 is still above .500, obviously, but it’s going to take maintaining more than that to really go somewhere great this season.
I’ve been thinking for a while that was going to take additions to the roster to secure that. Westburg is the latest addition to the Orioles roster and he probably won’t be the last.
For some more Jordan Westburg excitement, check out the podcast episode I recorded almost immediately after finishing this article: