Orioles INF Prospect Joey Ortiz On Learning From Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg

Orioles infield prospect Joey Ortiz makes himself a valuable player on the field. Second base, third base and shortstop are all positions that Ortiz has played this season for Double-A Bowie.

Ortiz, 23, was drafted No. 108 overall by the Orioles in the 2019 MLB Draft. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound infielder is slashing .220/.287/.354 with 28 RBIs for Bowie this year entering play June 23. On the fielding side, he has 136 assists and helped turn 29 double plays.

Fellow infielders Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg were recently promoted to Triple-A Norfolk, meaning Ortiz has settled in at shortstop of late. Henderson, 20, played shortstop and third base for Bowie. Westburg, 22, played shortstop, second base and third base.

“I’m always open to play different positions, to play anywhere. … As long as I see my name in the lineup I can play anywhere, that’s really the main focus,” Ortiz said on Glenn Clark Radio June 8. “Making sure to get my name in the lineup every day and just be ready to play anywhere.”

The three were known to have friendly competition on Bowie’s infield due to the shared time at shortstop. This made each player better and closer in general.

“We push each other to get better. I was able to watch what Jordan and Gunnar were doing down here,” Ortiz said. “They were playing extremely well, which is why they got moved. I was able to watch what they were doing and implement some stuff into my game.”

Understanding the defensive shifts at each position was the hardest part of playing different positions for Ortiz.

“It was definitely easier when we had a solid rotation going with Gunnar and Jordan. We all learned how to play with each other well,” Ortiz added. “Eventually it got easier to learn each position.”

Ortiz, a Garden Groves, Calif., native, played college ball at New Mexico State University (La Cruces, N.M.). After his third year at New Mexico State, Ortiz was taken with the first pick in the fourth round of the 2019 draft by the Orioles.

As a junior at New Mexico State, Ortiz was named the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He slashed .422/.474/.697 and led the conference with 106 hits, 85 runs scored, 25 doubles and 175 total bases.

This year, Ortiz has gotten off to a slower offensive start than fans expected, but he’s confident that it’ll turn around.

“Slumps are going to happen. I know slow starts are going to happen. It’s a very long season,” Ortiz said. “I just try to keep my head up, keep working hard because eventually it’s going to start working out. … I’m learning now that it starts with having good at-bat first, before the hits come, the doubles the triples the homers. It takes time.”

For more from Oritz, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan