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Scouting report: Orioles’ Jordan Westburg

Powerful infielder can play important role in club's rebuild
Jordan Westburg was promoted to Double-A Bowie in August after compiling a .412 on-base percentage in 82 games across two levels.
September 21, 2021's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at sixth-ranked Orioles prospect Jordan Westburg. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here. The Orioles have built much's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at sixth-ranked Orioles prospect Jordan Westburg. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.

The Orioles have built much of their top-ranked farm system by taking college hitters in the early rounds of the past few Drafts. Among the club’s top 10 prospects, there are five NCAA-produced position players, including the 30th overall selection in 2020, Jordan Westburg.

“You look at the history of the Draft, and middle infielders, especially shortstops from big conference schools, every round they are the smartest picks you can make,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias told after the Draft. “You should really take as many as you can, and we really like Westburg.”

Baltimore's sixth-ranked prospect was an integral part of Mississippi State’s run to Omaha in 2019, which earned him an invitation to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials that summer. By the time the pandemic shut down the 2020 season, Westburg had a .385 career on-base percentage over 124 games with the Bulldogs.

But beyond his ability to get on base, scouts seem to agree that his considerable bat speed and gap-to-gap approach is more in line with the profile of a modern middle infielder with legitimate power potential.

“He’s a guy who has power, above average speed, who can throw,” Elias told after the Draft. “There is a lot to like here and we think he can stay at shortstop.”

Westburg wasn’t the only college hitter the Orioles selected on Day 1 of last year’s Draft.

Baltimore tabbed University of Arkansas slugger Heston Kjerstad at No. 2 overall, and they were able to sign him to a deal about $2.59 million below slot value. That savings completely covered Westburg’s slot value deal of $2.37 million, and the Orioles paid full pick value for No. 39 overall pick Hudson Haskin -- an outfielder out of Tulane.

“It’s super exciting,” Westburg told “It makes you feel like you have a chance to be a part of something special. With Heston drafted before me and [top prospect] Adley [Rutschman] last year, to have my name up with those guys and the chance to rise through this organization and make an impact is something special.”

Kjerstad has not yet been able to make his professional debut due to myocarditis. The recurring heart condition has prevented the club’s No. 7 prospect from any official baseball activity since the Draft, and his potential return to action for this season was shut down in June.

Of course, it helps to not be held back by forces outside his control, but Westburg did hit the ground running in his first Minor League season. The 22-year-old has already earned a pair of promotions and finished the regular season with a .286/.391/.482 slash line, 15 homers and 79 RBIs in 111 games.

Westburg enters a playoff series with Double-A Bowie, where he didn’t quite catch on as quickly as he did at the lower levels. He needed only 20 games to get the bump from Low-A Delmarva after he batted .366/.484/.592 in 71 at-bats. Then, he produced his best power numbers with eight long balls in 62 games with High-A Aberdeen.

At Bowie, Westburg batted .232 with a .752 OPS and 32 strikeouts in 30 games, which was a higher rate than he produced in college.

The 6-foot-3, 203-pound Westburg has played a lot of games with 2019 second-rounder and Baltimore’s fourth-ranked prospect Gunnar Henderson, who was also promoted across three levels throughout the course of the season. The two split time at both shortstop and third base.

“There was that competition every single day between me and him,” Westburg told The Baltimore Sun in June. “My goal was to not let him play short, and his goal was to not let me play short. We just made each other better.”

That competition may not be settled any time soon, and his final numbers at Bowie might suggest a return to the level at the start of 2022. But Westburg already seems to be an important part of the rebuild for a team that’s on the verge of finishing with one of the two worst records in the Majors for the third time in the past four years.

Here's what the experts at MLB Pipeline have to say about Westburg:

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

HIT: 50
RUN: 55
ARM: 55

“There wasn’t a better double-play combination in college baseball at the time of the 2020 Draft than Mississippi State's Justin Foscue and Westburg, who stood out as the shortstop with more ceiling and defensive value of the two. Both were then selected within the Draft’s first 30 picks, Foscue at No. 14 to the Rangers and Westburg in Competitive Balance Round A. The Orioles gave Westburg full pick value ($2,365,500) as the No. 30 overall pick.

A star of the 2018 College World Series who helped the Bulldogs return to Omaha in 2019, Westburg flashes a blend of tools from his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. The most notable is his combination of strength and bat speed, which some believe could produce 20 or more homers annually at the highest level. He has a compact right-handed swing that can drive the ball both gap-to-gap and with power, particularly to the pull side, and an aggressive approach that led to occasional struggles with pitch recognition in college. Those holes weren’t an issue, however, at Orioles instructional camp in October, where he was considered one of the top performers.

Westburg’s size and average speed mean he’ll never be the slickest defensive shortstop, but he can make all the plays and is athletic enough to move around if necessary. The arm strength is plus, leading some to believe he could be a plus defender at third base down the line. With his power potential, he still profiles offensively at the hot corner. He’s young for his Draft class and seen as someone who could move quickly through Baltimore’s system.”

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for