Orioles infield prospect Jordan Westburg, who currently plays for High-A Aberdeen, says he and fellow infield prospect Gunnar Henderson have developed a healthy rivalry regarding who is going to get to play shortstop every night for the IronBirds.
“Yeah, no doubt, and I think that’s what makes us so good together. We feed off of each other. Both of our competitive fires fuels the other,” Westburg said on Glenn Clark Radio June 29. “We’re there to make each other better because we both want to break into that big-league club at the same time and make the same sort of impact for Baltimore and the Orioles as an organization.”
Westburg, 22, was drafted 30th overall out of Mississippi State in the 2020 MLB Draft and is the No. 6 overall prospect for the Orioles, according to MLB Pipeline. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound infielder is hitting .271/.369/.427 with two home runs this season for Aberdeen entering play July 2. He hit .366/.484/.592 with three homers at Low-A Delmarva before being promoted.
Henderson, meanwhile, has hit .274/.365/.500 with eight home runs between the Shorebirds and IronBirds. He moved up to Aberdeen shortly after Westburg. Henderson, 20, is ranked No. 5 on the Orioles prospect list.
Westburg is confident in his ability to be the Orioles’ long-term shortstop, but he’s also ready to play another position for the Orioles down the road, too.
“I think I’m definitely confident that I could be that guy. I trust my abilities [at shortstop],” Westburg said. “I trust that I’m only going to keep getting better there and learning from the mistakes and the successes that I have at that position. But at the end of the day, it’s whatever the Orioles have planned for me.”
With the Orioles in the midst of a rebuild, there will be opportunities for prospects to seize big-league jobs in the years to come as the club seeks to become a strong contender in the American League. That’s particularly true for Westburg given the current holes in the infield on the big-league team.
“I think we view that pressure as a privilege. I think that it makes us want to get there that much more,” Westburg said. “There’s this opportunity in front of us that you’d be crazy to not see it, and you’d be even crazier to not go for it.”
“Baseball is a weird game and some guys, it may take a little bit longer than others, and everybody has a different path,” he added, “but that opportunity is there.”
There is a lot of excitement in the Orioles’ farm system right now, and many fans have invested in the minor leagues and want to see the entire organization to succeed. (Double-A Bowie, Aberdeen and Delmarva all have winning records.) Westburg is excited to play in front of the fans at Ripken Stadium every night.
“It’s awesome getting to the ballpark and having fans that are Orioles fans from Maryland that are rooting for us every single day because they want us to go help the big-league team eventually,” Westburg said. “… I know everybody in this organization wants to get to the big-league club.”
“We’re very fortunate,” he added. “Delmarva was an awesome ballpark and now Aberdeen is beautiful.”
Playing in Maryland isn’t new for Westburg, who spent the summer before reporting to college playing for the Gaithersburg Giants in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. Westburg hit .271 with one homer, 12 RBIs in 28 games for Gaithersburg.
Westburg didn’t know anyone with the Orioles through his connection to the Gaithersburg Giants. However, he was familiar with Baltimore and Camden Yards because of time he spent in Baltimore while he was in Gaithersburg.
“I was very familiar with Camden, the Inner Harbor-downtown area just because I spent a whole day there just touring and getting to sightsee,” Westburg said. “When I got to go back and sign after I got drafted, it was kind of like, ‘Oh, I’ve actually been here before.'”
For more from Westburg, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Caroline Hurtt