02 Apr

birds of a feather

On a Baltimore team loaded with youthful talent, Jordan Westburg is fitting right in. The second-year big leaguer out of Mississippi State hit his first walk-off home run on Monday night, giving the Orioles (3-1) a 6-4 victory against Kansas City. “I just love being a part of this clubhouse,” Westburg, 25, said in a postgame TV interview. “It’s just so much fun to play here in Baltimore.” A first-round pick out of Starkville in 2020, Westburg debuted with the Orioles last summer and hit .260 with three homers in 68 games for a playoff-bound club. He hit just 10 homers in three years at State but blasted 60 in the minors in three seasons. He started at second base Monday but has also played third and shortstop, versatility that should serve him well. Westburg was 0-for-3 Monday when he dug in against the Royals’ Nick Anderson in the ninth inning and drove an 0-2 pitch the opposite way and into the right-field seats at Camden Yards. “I’m pretty excited about that one,” the normally even-keeled Westburg said. P.S. Former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley hit the first homer of 2024 by a Mississippian in the majors, a three-run bomb earlier Monday in the Braves’ 9-0 win at Chicago’s frigid Guaranteed Rate Field. Riley, who has 135 career homers, has started at third base on opening day for the Braves for five straight seasons. The team had six different starters in an eight-year stretch following the Chipper Jones era. … Ex-MSU standout Justin Foscue might get his first big league opportunity with Texas after Rangers third baseman Josh Jung went down Monday with an injury (fractured wrist). Foscue was a late cut this spring and is now at Triple-A Round Rock. … Former Bulldogs ace Ethan Small is rehabbing an oblique injury and is not currently with San Francisco, which acquired the left-hander in a spring trade with Milwaukee.

27 Jun

‘like a movie’

Ex-Mississippi State star Jordan Westburg stood in the batter’s box for his first big league at-bat with both raindrops and chants of “Westy, Westy” cascading from above at Camden Yards in Baltimore. “It felt like something out of like a movie, or something that you dream, honestly,” he told mlb.com after Monday’s game, a 10-3 win over Cincinnati. Westburg walked (and later scored) in that first at-bat, picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice grounder in his second and singled in his third. His debut was the lead story on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch. A first-round draft pick out of MSU in 2020, Westburg is the O’s No. 3-ranked prospect and was having a big year at Triple-A Norfolk before getting the call-up. He started at second base — where he made a slick play — and hit seventh in the order. … Westburg wasn’t the only Mississippi product to get a promotion on Monday. Detroit has moved former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith, its No. 1 prospect and the No. 43 overall (per mlb.com), to Triple-A Toledo. The 21-year-old third baseman is expected to debut on Wednesday at Columbus. Keith hit .325 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs at Double-A Erie and helped the club win a first-half championship. He also has been chosen to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Seattle on July 8. (Other Mississippians who have played in that game include Billy Hamilton, Hunter Renfroe, Nathaniel Lowe, Dakota Hudson, Ethan Small and Matt Wallner.) … Who’ll be next among Mississippians in the minors to move up the ladder? Possibly Blaze Jordan, the slugger from DeSoto Central who is currently at High-Class A Greenville in the Boston system. Jordan, 20, is hitting .328 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs in his first full season at Greenville, where he finished 2022. Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom recently said of the team’s No. 10 prospect, “(H)e’s definitely got our attention.” And then there’s Tim Elko, the Ole Miss product who is batting .297 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs at Low-A Kannapolis in the Chicago White Sox’s chain. Elko, at 24, is a little old for this level and seemingly deserves a bump up.

26 Jun

watch for it

A lot of Baltimore Orioles fans, upon hearing the news of the latest call-up, are probably wondering, What took so long? Former Mississippi State star Jordan Westburg, having a terrific season at Triple-A Norfolk, reportedly will join the Orioles on Monday and will be in the lineup against Cincinnati at Camden Yards. The O’s No. 3-ranked prospect, Westburg has played second base, shortstop, third and some outfield this season, batting .295 with 18 homers and 54 RBIs in 67 games. Following Sunday’s 3-2 win against Seattle, second baseman Adam Frazier — another MSU alum — was batting .228, shortstop Jorge Mateo .224 and rookie third baseman Gunnar Henderson .244. Baltimore (47-29) is in second place in the American League East. Westburg, 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, was the 30th overall pick out of Starkville in the 2020 draft. He didn’t hit for a lot of power at State but has belted 60 homers in his three minor league seasons and carries a .285 average. … One has to wonder why Cincinnati hasn’t made room on its roster for former Southern Miss standout Chuckie Robinson. The Reds, in first place in the National League Central but coming off back-to-back losses to Atlanta, are carrying three catchers and none of them is hitting. Robinson is batting .335 for Triple-A Louisville and hit his ninth homer in 52 games on Sunday. He is reputed to be a good defensive catcher. The 28-year-old Robinson got some big league time last season (.136, two homers in 59 at-bats for an awful Reds team) but was waived after the season and re-signed with the club.