Heston Kjerstad

From BR Bullpen

Heston Sawyer Kjerstad

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad was the second overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft, by the Baltimore Orioles. While Kjerstad was one of the top-rated college players in the country, the pick was considered a surprise as almost all observers had expected Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin to be the first two players selected, with the Orioles taking whichever of the two the Detroit Tigers hadn't plucked with the first pick. However, after the Bengals had taken Torkelson, the Orioles selected Kjerstad, who was described as the best left-handed power hitter in the draft.

Coming out of high school, Kjerstad had been drafted in the 36th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2017, but elected to attend college at the University of Arkansas instead. He hit .332 with 16 doubles and 14 homers as a freshman in 2018, and .327 with 17 homers as a sophomore the next year. His 14 homers in 2018 set the school record for a freshman. That year, his team made it to the final game of the 2018 College World Series, where they lost to Oregon State University - led by Adley Rutschman, the Orioles' top pick in the 2019 amateur draft. When the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020 season to a premature end, Heston was hitting a scorching .448 with 6 homers in 16 games, only confirming his status as one of the top college players in the country. He was a high school teammate of Grayson Rodriguez, another top Orioles prospect, and played at Arkansas with yet another member of the Baltimore system, Blaine Knight.

It took some time for Heston to make his professional debut, because the minor leagues were shut down by the pandemic during the summer when he signed, and he then missed all of 2021 because of myocarditis, a side effect of a case of COVID-19. He then suffered a severe hamstring strain in spring training in 2022, setting him back by another two to three months. The long awaited day finally came on June 10th for the Delmarva Shorebirds of the Carolina League, playing DH, and collected his first professional hit that day. On June 24th, he hit his first homer as a professional in his 10th game, against the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Zachary Silver: "O's Kjerstad makes pro debut, collects 1st hit, after 2-year wait", mlb.com, June 11, 2022. [1]
  • Joe Trezza: "O's shock at No. 2 with 'favorite bat' Kjerstad: Club chooses Mississippi State SS Westburg 30th overall", mlb.com, June 11, 2020. [2]
  • Joe Trezza: "'OK, I'm back': Kjerstad blasts first pro homer", mlb.com, June 24, 2022. [3]

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