After surprising many and taking Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the second pick, the Orioles had another pick on night one of the draft, #30 overall, the first of the competitive balance picks between rounds one and two (it was tonight because the Houston Astros were stripped of their first round pick).
With this one, they went with Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg.
Though neither was a heralded prospect or drafted out of high school in 2017, Mississippi State’s Westburg and Justin Foscue have developed into college baseball’s best double-play combination. Foscue has been a more consistent hitter but Westburg has a higher ceiling and more defensive value. He tied a College World Series record with seven RBI in one game in 2018 and helped the Bulldogs return to Omaha last season.
Westburg has a compact right-handed swing and possesses the bat speed and strength to provide 20 or more homers on an annual basis. He lacks consistency at the plate because he has a very aggressive, pull-happy approach and sometimes struggles with pitch recognition and managing the strike zone. After he failed to make the U.S. collegiate national team last summer, he settled down nicely in the Cape Cod League and was one of the circuit’s more productive hitters.
Westburg has solid speed and arm strength to match, giving him a chance to stick at shortstop at the next level. He’s big for the position at 6-foot-3 and if he adds more strength to his frame, he could slow down and necessitate a move to third base. With his power potential, he still could profile offensively at the hot corner.
This wasn’t the over-slot high schooler many expected here, but the Orioles are on the clock again at #39 overall (second pick of the round) when Round 2 kicks off Thursday at 5 PM.