Let the Westburg Era begin in Baltimore

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Luke Jones and Nestor discuss arrival of Jordan Westburg and what it means for Orioles lineup and offense


talking, play, orioles, bats, norfolk, jordan, westbrook, prospect, player, point, minor league, henderson, week, gunnar, pipeline, number, situation, strike, case, bench


Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

U N s, t, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we remind everybody set us on your dial somewhere out there one of those six or 12 or 18 channels somewhere out there next to be 104 and W LPL Oh, they’re gone, but we’re 1570 on your dial. But make us number one and your little selection there. All of our programming this week brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery. I have these instant lottery scratch offs. We’ll be giving these away on Thursday morning at families, I got my family’s gear on it might be the last time we’re in the old mark because they’re about to go into the new mark and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. We’ll be there on Thursday morning had a great time at spirits West with our friends at window nation last week, with Chad Weasley with Chris pica with Ricky Hotaki, and some old school softball talking about the neighborhood talking about St. Joe and talking about the history of Baltimore rock and roll and the kickstand and Child’s Play and all that stuff, as well as Josh Jacobs in the running back situation. Luke Jones is here now we’re not going to talk about the JK Dobbins situation although I did talk to Jack weaseling about that for a little while and he understands he’s working for JK Dobbins and every other running back out there. But on the baseball side we got the Orioles home all week. You’re about to go eat pizza and get yourself tanned up and your whole family down at the beach. Everybody’s headed to the beach. The reds are in town. They have this sensation and we don’t play the Reds very much 1970 notwithstanding. And the Orioles have called up another player and a player is sort of waiting in line and bumping his head and like all that stuff. We talked about guys scuffling here we talked about Aaron Hicks a little bit we talked about them winning series and doing nothing but winning. But this pipeline and there’s gonna be a Colton Couser moment there’s gonna be Jackson Holliday moment, the same way there was a matt Wieters moment the same way there was an athlete rutschman moment, but when they when I get texts from you on the wn S T tech servers brought to you by coons Baltimore for I’m always, you know, we were waiting on stars, but now they’re they have a pipeline that once a month they’re going to be making you send the text out. And we hope that it’s not a KanCare hearts situation. We hope that when they come up, they stay up. Right.


Luke Jones  02:05

Right. I mean, think about it where we were 13 months ago at this point in time, which is right around when Adley rutschman was promoted to the majors at that point in time. Yes, the oils had shown signs that they were better than they were the year before. They had been more competitive. But they still were not good. They were below 500 Still not team that felt like they were a ways away at that point in time. So when Adley rutschman arrived, and he’s a special case, right? He was the face of the rebuild. He was the first pick Mike Elias ever made one, one. All that but it was all about hope it was all about the future. Right now we’re at a point We saw this with Gunnar Henderson when he was caught up late last year and the Orioles were in wildcard contention. We’re at a point now whenever someone arrives in the majors, yes, there’s still that excitement of hey, it’s cool. It’s a kid making his major league debut. It’s a kid we’ve heard about in the minor leagues the last couple years. But in the case of Jordan Westberg, who has done everything you possibly could ask, I mean, this is a kid who had over 700 plate appearances at triple A Norfolk dating back to last June, and had 81 extra base hits over that period of time. He couldn’t do anything else to justify a call up to the major league. So when he arrives, yes, there’s that excitement. But the bigger question is not hope for the future. The question is, Can Jordan Westberg make the 2023 Orioles right now? And over the course of the next three and a half months? A better ballclub and I think that’s what we’re going to find out here. So with Jordan Westbrook being called up, we’re talking about someone who is a little bit older. He’s 24 was a 2,020/38 overall pick end of the first round, you know, they kind of have that competitive balance a B, whatever. However, they distinguished the overall pick, right? That’s

Nestor Aparicio  03:59

a serious player. Yeah, it’s a prospect.

Luke Jones  04:03

Yeah. I mean, this is someone they loved coming out of Mississippi State. He really, I mean, beyond the fact that he was an early pick when he really opened some eyes. It was that foul. Keep in mind 2020 was the COVID year there was no minor league season, he didn’t get to play a partial season of pro ball. But that fall in Sarasota, they did have their instructional league. And that was when he really opened some eyes where they said, Hey, this kid has a bat that could really play in a couple of years. So there was a lot of excitement about him. And all he did in 2021 and 22. And 23 is hit and he hits for power. He does have a little bit of swing and miss as most players do in the modern game. But he moves around. He’s played a lot of third. He’s played a lot of shortstop. He’s played some second. This year. He’s even played some corner outfield. So I am going to be fascinated to see how Brandon Hyde deploys him on a nightly basis because you have him. You have Gunnar Henderson, you can play third or short. You have some other guys on this current roster who can move around. But in the case of Jordan Westberg, it was time, right? I mean, he’s been a consensus going into the year he’s a consensus top 100 prospect, whether you’re talking about baseball, America baseball perspective, our prospectus MLB pipeline, every single outlet had him in their top 100. And he’s been one of the Orioles very best prospects, you know, going back to early last year. I mean, he’s someone that I thought had a chance to be caught up late last year, because of his age, and because of the success he had at Norfolk, but, you know, they were patient with him, even to patient in some people’s minds. You know, that was one reason I wasn’t a big Adam Frazier signing fan over the winter was, you have Jordan Westbrook, who feels like he’s really, really close to being ready. So we’ll see how it plays out. You never really know. And you know, Kyle sours was an example, this last year, he put up big numbers at triple A, and to this point, you know, and he’s hurt right now down in the minor league. So he’s not playing, but to this point, it hasn’t panned out for him. So you never know, the International League is not the same as the majors. And that’s not to say that Jordan Westbrook is going to come up and just rake from day one. But boy, you like the profile and you like what he can do you like the positional versatility, you know, he’s not as highly regarded defensively as, say, a joey Ortiz or Jorge Mateo. But I think there’s a confidence that he can be a really solid defender. And I think he’s someone who has powered all fields, who, you know, not gonna say he’s going to be a 35 homerun guy or anything crazy like that. But I think he’s gonna hit for some power. And I think he’s someone who can absolutely beef up their middle infield production situation, whether it’s him playing one of those positions, or whether it’s him playing third and maybe playing Gunnar Henderson at shortstop a little bit more, because we’ve talked about Mateo struggles at the plate. So it was telling

Nestor Aparicio  06:57

Walter talks about pile divers back in the day. This is one of those pipeline guys that in alias is mine, when we’re good. He’ll be a part of this right? When we’re good. Two years ago, you’re thinking about this when we’re good, he’ll be a part of it. Well, they’re good, and he hasn’t been a part of it at all. And now he’s going to, you know, pick up a bat, so to speak and be a part of this in the same way that at some point, Kaos was going to be a part of this and and sours. I don’t know, maybe he’s not good enough. But these other guys are thought to be most people think Jordan Westbrook is gonna be a major league player for the next 10 years, right? Like he’s on that pipeline of once he’s here. He’s not a might be they think he’s a major league baseball because only 24 years old. You act like that’s a sin. It’s crazy. Some of these guys come up with 2021 24 is not a sin.

Luke Jones  07:46

Yeah, no, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just I guess my point was, he’s not like gunner Henderson, in the standpoint where you’re talking about someone who’s really, really young, right. He wasn’t a high school draft pick, he came out of college at Mississippi State. So, but we’ve talked about it. And I mentioned this a little bit, you know, a couple of minutes ago, but all of these players that that came through the system with 2020, but the COVID year where you just had a minor league season that was just wiped out, other than a select few who got to be at the alternate training site and buoy that summer. So it’s a really unique development experience for some of these guys, in the case of Westberg. You know, he was a college player so little bit further along, but they certainly still took their time with him. I mean, again, he had over 700 plate appearances at triple A, and I thought he could have been in the majors late last year, you know, at least gotten an opportunity at that at that point in time, but they brought up Gunnar Henderson and that was fine. You know, I would have liked to see both of them, quite frankly. But we’re gonna find out you never really know. And again, this isn’t someone who’s regarded in the same way of an Adley rutschman a gunner Henderson how Jackson Holliday has kind of you know, jockeying to be the number one prospect in baseball already, you know, at 19 years old, which is speaks to his his incredible ceiling. So Westbrook doesn’t necessarily have that kind of ceiling. But again, all he’s done is hit and produce. I mean, go look, it’s got 60 career home runs in the minors. I mean, he had a 939 Oh, PS a triple A this year 18 homeruns. I mean, lots of doubles, as I said, he can move around the diamond. So I think you have some options as far as where you play him and getting his bat in the lineup. So the plan is he’s gonna play you don’t call him up to sit on the bench. So he’s gonna play and it’s gonna be probably it’s gonna mean fewer at bats for Matteo one way or the other probably fewer at bats for Adam Frazier, one way or the other. And, look, if you’re not going to produce this, this team has a farm system where you can be replaced or you can at least be you know, read, you know, your your role will be will shift a little bit I think, don’t do that as a negative for those. Maybe for those guys individually. It’s a negative but for the Orioles themselves. If you can then bring in Adam Fraser off the bench late in the game, he was a high contact kind of hitter in a situation, or Jorge Mateo coming off the bench to be a pinch, pinch runner or a late game defensive replacement. You’ve just made your bench better, too. So there are moving parts to this. There are lots of tentacles to this, whenever you call up someone like this, who you’re hoping is going to make you better. And we’ll see. Yeah, we’ll see how it plays out. And Westbrook could struggle just in the way that every young player is going to struggle at some point in time. But I think there’s a lot of excitement here. And this is someone that’s been talked about for a couple years, like I said, that fall instructional league down in Sarasota in 2020. They were kind of him and Gunnar Henderson, both really, you know, there were some people in the organization that said, Wow, we might have something with these guys. That’s even more than we thought when we drafted them. So we’ll see how it plays out. And like I said, he does have some swing and miss. So it’s not to say that he won’t struggle. But he, I think he, again, you see the numbers at Norfolk. And I think it sends a good message to everyone in your system, whether you’re the number one prospect, or whether you’re someone that’s a little more fringe like where you just say, Hey, you go through every level, you graduate, Aberdeen, you graduate from buoy you graduated Norfolk, you’re gonna get an opportunity here, even with the club being good, you’re still gonna get an opportunity here even with a team that’s a top five record in baseball as the Orioles have right now, you’re going to get an opportunity. So I think that just sends a great message to everyone down below. And again, you’re hoping that Jordan Westberg comes here, and maybe not immediately, but over in the coming weeks makes you a better ballclub? I mean, that’s the idea. Right? So I think there’s a lot of excitement for his arrival. And I think there are definitely some expectations that he can help there. Infield offense which let’s face it, other than get Gunnar Henderson and I’m not talking first base, but third shortstop second base, other than Henderson, they’ve been lacking in that department offensively. So if Westbrook can be added to the mix here and beef that up just going to make you better here over the next three and a half months.

Nestor Aparicio  12:11

With these young players, they come up for all these guys that strike out a lot. I don’t even know how to judge them when they strike out a lot as long as they’re hitting the ball a little bit. And that goes for mountcastle. That goes for Henderson that goes for any of these guys that feel a little slumpy not necessarily Dave King Mini, because if Jordan Westberg comes up in his Dave King Mini, that would be against his bloodline of everything he’s done in the minors, right? Like he’s going to strike out, but he’s also going to hit through 75 to 80. He’s going to hit some bombs gonna drive in runs, he’s gonna hit that ball, he’s gonna do all of that. But the question is, is he going to hit a buck 80 When he comes up the first month, because the first 100 at bats are going to be different than international league pitching or double AP and where he’s been. But the sea hit selection will be there, he’s going to strike out, but it’s just a matter of contact and how it goes, and probably how they use them a little bit, too, because they didn’t bring him up to use him three days a week, right? Like, he’s gonna be in the lineup all week, I would think if they’re bringing them up, they’re gonna make room for him, and will judge him a couple of weeks from now. But when these young players come up, the first thing is to start looking at his pitch selection. You know, are they putting the ball in play at all? Do they look overmatched? All of that. And that would be the case with 100 loss team when you bring somebody up, man, you come up into this team. It’s different coming up and you’re in a pennant race. Now I think for all the guys that come up now, there’s a different level of how long can we live with you not looking like a major league? Or if you don’t look like a major league and when you come up before we hurt your feelings and send you down?

Luke Jones  13:43

Yeah, yeah. And look, that’s part of it. And I’ve talked about this with you talked about this with Dennis as well in our different conversations about the Orioles. But they’re really at a point now. And I’ve even talking to some members of the organization where when you’re talking about these prospects, it’s not like it was before, right where you had so many placeholders on the major league roster. I mean, so many guys that were quad A players are washed out, guys, never were I mean, you just had that. So as soon as you had someone theoretically who was ready, quote, unquote, attaboy, Norfolk, brought him up, right? I mean, that’s just the way it was, there was plenty of room for them. The difference now and this is where Kyle sours ran into some trouble just to use him as an example. And I’m not trying to bury the kid and, you know, he’s, he’s hurt right now at Norfolk. And maybe we’ll see him again, at some point. You never know what’s going to happen. But there was an example where if you’re evaluating a prospect at Norfolk, now, the question is much more. How does he compare to who we have in that position at the major league level? And in the case of Star Wars, he ran into the problem because it’s, you asked a very simple question. Is he better than Anthony Santander and rightfield? No. Is he better than Austin Hays in left field offensively or more specifically, which is much more of a challenge now with a big left field in Camden Yards where you basically need to center fielders in your outfield to cover that ground? Is he better than Austin? Hays? It was a no. So then it becomes Alright. Is it going to be a DH yard? You know, can you put Santander there? I mean, and it just came out came out to it that he in their eyes and look, I think he could have gotten more at bats more regular at bats to see a play out. And I certainly expect them to play a Westberg if not every day, most days at the very least. And like I said, he can move around a little bit in spell some guys here and there and, and work that out if you want to. But it comes down to two, we think this kid coming up has the chance to be right now, if not right now, very, very soon, once he’s acclimated to be an upgrade over what we have. And in the case of where the Orioles have been with Matteo for a while now. And where they’ve been with Fraser in the month of June, when you look at his numbers, and he’s he has a sub two sub 300 on base percentage at this point, the answer is yes. At the very least you want to find out right you have, we can be better,

Nestor Aparicio  16:00

we can be better. Right? Okay, exactly. So so. So

Luke Jones  16:03

I think that that’s how you’re looking at these prospects right now. And that’s where it is a little more complicated. And let’s be clear, that’s a good problem to have. That’s a good problem to have too many players, so to speak. So and they’ll do the same thing with Colton Couser. That’s why Aaron Hicks being as good as he’s been. And being such a pleasant surprise for them has probably, it’s delayed counselors path to a major league spot, at least for a little while. And again, if Hicks goes three for his next 40, then you probably won’t be here much longer after that, you know, because that’s just the way it’s going to work. But in the case of Westberg look, he couldn’t do any more than he did at Norfolk and say, All right, you got to let see if this kid, even if he fails at the major league level, you got to find out because he’s been that good for that long at Norfolk. And you made you answered or you asked the question about the swing and miss for me. I don’t mind strikeouts. To a degree right? You know, we’re not talking one I want to see someone strike out at a Chris Davis like level. But swing and misses. Okay for me, if it’s accompanied by power, if it’s accompanied by an ability to draw some walks. And that’s where Ryan mountcastle has really run into a lot of trouble because he just doesn’t walk at all. So unless he’s red hot, just crushing the ball, his values really limited in that way offensively. But in the case of Westberg No, he does have some swing and miss. He’s struck out 147 times last year, he has cut down on the strikeout some this year when you look at it. And that’s striking

Nestor Aparicio  17:32

out on minorly pitching to

Luke Jones  17:35

it is and keep it but keep in mind that so much of that is look, how do I say this? I’m not trying to be flippant about strikeouts, but the reality is in the modern game, and we’ve seen this with even with the shift having gone away, but we see how much power high velocity pitching there is that the idea is yes, there are times where you just want to make contact. But there are other times where you want to have the contact damage ratio be in line where Yeah, you are swinging the drive the ball and the Orioles. Their mentality from an offense standpoint in the minor leagues is they want their hitters with a mentality to not just hit a soft line drive, but their mentality is to hit the ball off the wall. Now that’s really that’s what they’re looking for a line drive to line drive to the gap. That’s what they’re looking for, philosophically speaking, so in the case of Westberg Yeah, he’s gonna strike out some there’s no doubt about it. He’s not going to you know, he’s not an Adley rutschman level or gunner and 100 Anderson level of walking, but I’ll take his walks, you know, if he’s not, I don’t think he’s mountcastle either. So somewhere in between those two extremes. But, you know, what you’re hoping to see is I mean, kid has 35 extra base hits this year already know, in less than roughly half a season in the minor leagues. So how’s that gonna play? No, is he going to be able to to get over the big wall and left field a little a little bit is he going to be able to drive the ball to left center and right center? I mean, this is someone who showed an ability to hit the ball with power in every direction so we’re gonna see how it plays out again I’m not saying shorting Westbrook is a future all stock but I think he’s got a bat that can help them and I think he’s got enough positional versatility that he can move around a little bit for you depending on your need and and be that kind of player for you as well. I think it’ll be you know, it’s been interesting to see him play a little more outfield this year down in Norfolk so who’s going to be the guy to be sure it’s something we see at some point but Fraser matches we are in fields been lacking. I see i i I think those two are going to be the guys that you’re going to see getting fewer at bats at this point because you know whether it’s Westbrook playing third Gunnar Henderson playing short, Westbrook can play short. I don’t think that’s his best position, but certainly can and play there Westberg even though he hasn’t played as much second base this year, as we saw last year, he can play there as well. So, I think you’re gonna see, you’re gonna see a little bit of a rotate a little more of a rotation, which I’m fine with. For me if it was becoming untenable to just say, Matteo and Matteo and Adam Frazier are playing every single day. You know, you can’t have two guys struggling to that degree offensively in your lineup every night. You know, it’s just not going to work. So I think you’ll you’ll see some flexibility and it’s part of how the Orioles have done and all their infielders you know, saved for maybe Jackson Holliday being the exception, all their infield prospects They’ve all moved around. Now that gunner played third base and shortstop West for is played third short and second. Joey Ortiz has played shortstop and second base and also a little bit of third so all these guys you know, they’ve really preached trying to be as versatile as possible. So we’re gonna see how it plays out but I don’t think this is just going to be he they plug him into one spot and that’s that and one guy is suddenly benched I think you’re gonna see I’m we’ve seen it a little bit here. Recently, we’ve seen Gunnar Henderson make a few more starts at shortstop of late and, you know, your ES has been in the mix since coming back from the aisle, of course. So, you know, I think you’ll continue to see that I just think you’re gonna see Jordan Westberg have a heavy presence in that mix as he should, the worst thing they could possibly do. And, frankly, they did this with Joey Ortiz, and it irritated me a little bit because, you know, I wanted to see him get an opportunity. But the worst thing you can do is bring up Jordan Westbrook and he only plays two or three days a week. Now this is a guy who, for the time being until he shows you that he can’t handle for an extended period of time. He should be playing just about every day. You know, I’m not saying every single game but he should be playing most games because I think he has the kind of bat that has the potential to play and really help this lineup.

Nestor Aparicio  21:51

Well we got a new Oriole in the fold, Jordan Rosberg, if you’re on the wn S T tech service brought to you by coons Baltimore for you got to first over the weekend, Luke will be at the ballpark all week. The Reds bring in a sensation and really, they’ve been a bit of a sensation in Cincinnati last couple of weeks selling a lot of tickets. People are coming back to the games. Luke and I talked at length about bringing people back the Orioles games had a great conversation at spirits West with Chad we sling local NFL agent about Josh Jacobs his running back with the Las Vegas Raiders, as well as Chris pica joined us to talk to Mount St. Joe. So lots and lots of stuff on the air here this week. Luke’s gonna be vacationing at some point we got the Fourth of July. I’m going to be having our friends from wise markets on this weekend and wise conversation in regard to heritage fair this weekend. So if you’re from Dundalk, you from the east side this weekend, doing the heritage fair a little bit early this weekend. I’ll stay away from the country not on Saturday, but I’ll be there on Friday and Sunday down at Dundalk as well. So pick appreciation or friends wise markets for putting that together. We’re gonna be doing the Maryland crab cake tour on Thursday morning at fate leads to celebrate the Fourth of July talking crab cakes, probably some oysters before it’s all over probably some shrimp salad because it’s delicious down there. All of that brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery. I’ll be giving away these instant lottery scratch offs as I did on Wilkins Avenue at spirits West with Ricky Hall and the group the other day and our friends at window nation with a wacky a floppy hat that I did. The Orioles give a floppy hat away but I’m gonna be wearing my blue window nation at 866 90 nation. You call them get your windows here this summer you buy two you get two free two years of 0% financing. I’m about the 10 months into my windows now. Very very pleased. I’ve had a couple of friends buy some Windows from Windows nation and they’re pleased as well. So well get on it if you need Windows. I had 40 year old windows this time last year they weren’t opening awful dusty, terrible screens were awful. It wasn’t keeping the air out right 866 90 nation when their nation is there for you look at the ballpark there for you. He’s out on Instagram and Facebook and we’re out on Twitter. We’re all these places that social media travel this week. Get a little rock and roll in to Dan and Mary Well, little Shania Twain and little Dave Matthews this week in the cure. So big big doings here this summer as the Ravens take a little time away to take a little nap for the next month. Luke will be there to cover all that as we rev up the engines for the purple season as well. I am Nestor. We are W N sta and 1570, Towson Baltimore. We never stop talking Baltimore positive

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