The Road to The Show™: Orioles’ Norby
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at Orioles No. 11 prospect Connor Norby. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. By season’s end, Connor Norby fit right in
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at Orioles No. 11 prospect Connor Norby. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.
By season’s end, Connor Norby fit right in among an elite group of Orioles prospects.
Baltimore claimed the top spot in MLB Pipeline’s farm system rankings both before and after the promotion of Adley Rutschman. Gunnar Henderson, the No. 2 overall prospect, followed Rutschman to Camden Yards later in the season as the O’s made a push for the Wild Card.
While improvements are likely to be made to the Major League roster this offseason, perhaps beginning at this week’s Winter Meetings, the club possesses the young talent to push its rebuild into the final furlong.
Norby might not carry the same star power as the Orioles’ highest-ranking prospects, but this season he evolved to a legitimate power threat in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
The 22-year-old finished with 29 homers, the most in the Orioles system. He climbed three levels of the Minors, moving from High-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie before playing the final nine games of the season with Triple-A Norfolk.
Overall, Norby hit .279 with an .886 OPS, 73 RBIs and 92 runs scored. He also added 23 doubles, four triples and 16 stolen bases. His power-speed combination put him in rarified air as he was one of only two Minor Leaguers to reach his homer and stolen base totals.
“He had a fantastic year,” Orioles director of player development Matt Blood told MiLB.com in October. “He was an advanced hitter, and he showed everybody that he's got power to the big part of the park. … We felt like he had [that type of power] in him. And I think he knew he had it in him. He made a couple of little tweaks and he really took off.”
Norby was one of the NCAA’s most consistent hitters at East Carolina University during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and his Draft year in 2021. The Orioles’ No. 11 prospect batted .412 in 78 games across those two seasons.
After leaving the yard just six times in his first two years at ECU, his power breakout began in 2021. He went deep 15 times in his final college games and added three more with Single-A Delmarva after being selected with the No. 41 overall pick in July’s Draft.
This season, the power came naturally for Norby as he struggled through an eye injury that landed him on the injured list for two weeks in the middle of May. The 5-foot-10, 187-pound infielder enjoyed a nice April with Aberdeen, clubbing five homers with 11 RBIs while batting .260 and posting an .866 OPS. But from May 1 through the end of his time in Aberdeen, Norby hit just three homers and drove in nine runs while batting .218 with a .641 OPS in 31 games.
“In Aberdeen, I know for sure the field is a little bigger and the ball just doesn’t carry that well there,” Norby noted in August. “Everyone’s like, ‘Just get to Bowie because the ball carries in Bowie. You’re going to get rewarded for balls you hit hard. They’re going to go.'”
Connor Norby is on 🔥— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 31, 2022
The No. 12 @Orioles prospect cranked two homers and tripled in a four-RBI day for the @BowieBaysox! pic.twitter.com/2kmHjjPxW1
Things did in fact get better for Norby after the bump to Double-A. At the end of the season, he was named to the Eastern League All-Star team for a performance that saw him bat .298/.389/.571 with 17 long balls, 46 RBIs and 58 runs scored.
“Being able to take the good and bad from each game. I think that's just been the biggest adjustment,” Norby said in an Orioles video series. “Every level has taught me something new, so far. Just consistently putting good contact on the baseball, I think I've done that better than I have in the past.”
Norby had a huge second half and really caught fire in August, when he was named the Eastern League Player of the Month. He hit 21 of his 27 total long balls in the final 61 games of the season, beginning with his second of four two-homer games on July 14 against Akron. Over that final stretch, Norby batted .310 with a 1.022 OPS.
At the start of next season, he’ll likely return to Norfolk, where he had 14 hits in 39 at-bats (.359), including three homers. There is already a good internal competition among Orioles middle infield prospects for a spot on the Opening Day roster. No. 5 Baltimore prospect Jordan Westburg and No. 17 Joey Ortiz are likely leading Norby in that race.
Norby has played second base while Westburg and Ortiz are experienced and sure-handed at both spots up the middle. The club tested Norby’s defensive versatility in left field for 11 games, but he’ll likely remain a power-hitting second baseman in the mold of Dan Uggla or Brian Dozier, or break into the Majors as a designated hitter.
Either way, Norby figures to be part of the next playoff chase in Baltimore.
“I think if you're consistently worrying about winning, then the rest takes care of itself,” Norby said. “There's a ton of talent in this org. … They push you to be better because they're so good and I think competition brings out the best in everyone.”
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.