This is tough to say as someone whose belief structure dictates that every top-level Orioles prospect should be in the majors as quickly as possible.

It felt as if Jordan Westburg was long overdue to join the Orioles when he did a year ago, after more than a full season of steady production at Triple-A. It turns out, as long as he was made to wait, there’s no denying Westburg joined the Orioles as ready as anyone in this post-rebuild era. What he’s given the Orioles in the last year is a testament to something they knew from the moment he finally got on a field for them in 2020: There’s a lot he can do to help a team win.

“He seems like he’s adjusted and adapted to the big leagues quicker than anybody I’ve ever seen,” teammate Ryan O’Hearn said. “How awesome to have a guy like that on your team — a guy you can depend on every day.”

Gunnar Henderson, who has shared an infield with Westburg for most of his professional career, was more succinct: “He’s been unreal.”

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Most of the time Westburg has spent since the Orioles drafted him 30th overall in the shortened 2020 draft, he’s had to distinguish himself in a crowd of stars in order to be recognized as one himself.

The Orioles bet the improvements in Westburg’s approach he demonstrated in a productive 2019 Cape Cod League and the pre-pandemic portion of the 2020 season at Mississippi State were legitimate. He came to the Orioles’ fall instructional camp that year and was quickly recognized as one of its best players, an instant top-10 prospect in the organization and someone they believed would one day be a top-100 prospect in the game.

The Orioles thought he’d have been a top-15 pick had that college season completed, and the simplicity of one club official’s assessment spoke volumes when he said, “He looks like they look.”

Westburg and Henderson began 2021 by obliterating Low-A pitching at Delmarva, and Westburg ended up at Double-A Bowie that year, finishing with an .868 OPS over three levels. Between Bowie and Norfolk in 2022, he hit 27 home runs with an .851 OPS, and he smacked 18 home runs in 67 games with a .939 OPS as he waited for his debut last year.

Where many Orioles prospects not named Henderson or Adley Rutschman struggled to hold regular roles in their first crack at the majors, Westburg did. It wasn’t exactly how he thought it would go, batting in the bottom half of the lineup and grinding out a .715 OPS with league-average production. But he defended well enough at second and third base to play more than any other Orioles infielder outside Henderson after he debuted, and he has taken a massive leap forward in 2024.

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Entering Tuesday’s game, Westburg was batting .281 with an .846 OPS and 13 home runs, with his 2.7 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs behind only Henderson and Rutschman among Orioles hitters. His 137 wRC+ entering Tuesday was 24th best among 146 qualified major league hitters, and his consistency in doing so has been a marvel for Orioles teammates all year.

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Jordan Westburg (11) ‘turns the water on’ after singling in the second game of a series against the Cleveland Guardians at Camden Yards on June 25, 2024.
The Orioles drafted Westburg 30th overall in 2020. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

O’Hearn said: “You know he’s just going to be ready to go every day and probably even better offensively.”

Henderson, who bounced between shortstop and third base last season, understands the degree of difficulty Westburg’s dual roles at shortstop and second base create.

“Some days, maybe you don’t want to take ground balls, but say you play second base for five straight days and you go play third base that next day, you’ve got to go take ground balls,” Henderson said. “It just depends on how many times you get to play it in a row and how your body is feeling that day.”

Doing what it takes to prepare for that night’s game was something Westburg prepared for even when he wasn’t yet in the majors. Minor league teammates and coaches always raved about how consistently he stuck to his pregame routine and cage work, which Westburg used to build a foundation that’s helped him in the majors.

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Perhaps Westburg will mark his first full major league season by joining Henderson and Rutschman at the All-Star Game this month. Perhaps he’ll simply go on being one of those underappreciated contributors who nonetheless performs like an All-Star. Winning teams need both, and Westburg has always been focused on being whatever the Orioles need him to be.

“I feel like he just goes about his business each and every day the right way,” Henderson said. “I feel like he’s always locked in to his routine and what he wants his process to be, and I feel like he goes into each day trying to execute that plan to try and set himself up for the game that night. He does that each and every day, and it’s showing.”