O's honor Minor Leaguers Westburg, Watson with awards

September 30th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Before Friday’s game against the Yankees, the Orioles announced the winners for their player development and scouting awards for 2022.

Infielder Jordan Westburg was named the club’s top Minor League player and right-hander Ryan Watson was named the organization’s top Minor League pitcher.

High-A Aberdeen manager Roberto Mercado and area scout Scott Walter were also honored by the organization. Mercado was named the winner of the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award, while Walter was honored with the Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award.

The award winners will be recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to Tuesday’s home game against the Blue Jays, with awards presented by Matt Blood, who is the Orioles’ director of player development.

Westburg, the the No. 5 prospect in the Orioles' organization according to MLB Pipeline, had a slash line of .265/.355/.496 with 27 homers, 96 runs scored and 106 RBIs in 138 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

Westburg led Orioles Minor Leaguers in doubles, extra-base hits (69), total bases (270) and RBIs. He also finished second in the organization in hits and home runs. After being promoted to the Tides on June 6, he led the International League with 74 RBIs, tied for the league lead with 25 doubles, while also ranking second in the IL with 46 extra-base hits, 184 total bases and 64 runs scored.

Watson, 24, was 7-5 with one save and a 3.44 ERA and a .223 opponents' batting average in 27 games (18 starts) between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed just two hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts across 13 scoreless innings in three games (one start) to begin the season for the Baysox and was named the Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April.

The Ripken Award is named after the late Orioles coach and manager who is widely regarded as the architect of “The Oriole Way.” Each year, a Minor League staff member who exemplifies Ripken’s qualities as an instructor is recognized with the award. Mercado was instrumental in creating a positive culture and learning environment for the many prospects he managed. Twenty-seven players were promoted to Double-A Bowie under his watch and 19 of those made their Double-A debuts this year.

The Russo Award is named in honor of the man who spent 33 years in various scouting capacities with the Orioles, beginning with their move from St. Louis in 1954. Walter has been a key member of the Orioles’ scouting operations since the fall of 2010, patrolling a large portion of California that ranges from Los Angeles to Northern California and Northern Nevada. Some of his recent signees include current Major Leaguer Kyle Stowers and 2022 Compensation A selection Dylan Beavers.