2022 #10 Prospect Heston Kjerstad – RF

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Although his first full professional season was delayed by a spring training hamstring injury, the former 1st round pick ended his year on a high note with a great AFL season and ending up ast the Orioles #10 prospect.

Heston Kjerstad
Pos: OF
Bats: L
Throws: R
Age (as of Jun 30th) : 23
2022 Level: A/A+

Tools (current/future value)
Hit: 30/45
Game Power: 30/60
Raw Power: 65/65
Run: 45/45
Defense: 40/45

Most Likely Future Role: Starting right fielder
Ceiling: 1st Division Starting right fielder

Stats

What we know: The Orioles 1st pick (2nd overall) in the 2020 finally made it to the field after battling complications from Myocarditis and then a hamstring injury this past spring. Made his professional debut on June 10th with Delmarva in the Carolina League and immediately destroyed the young pitching in the league slashing .463/.551/.650/1.201 in 98 PAs in 22 games.

Despite the impressive numbers, he was not driving the ball much and hitting the ball on the ground too much (53.1 GB%) while hitting just two home runs. He was also jumping on a lot of fastballs early in the count so the Orioles sent him to Aberdeen (High-A, Sally League) where he immediately found trouble with offspeed pitches. He has plenty of bat speed to get to upper velocity, but seemed to have some trouble picking up spin and changeups. Most of his power this season went to the opposite field. Despite some of the struggles (23.6% K rate) and the lack of power (.129 ISO/3 HRs in 186 PAs) in Aberdeen, his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt since several Aberdeen hitters, including Colton Cowser and Connor Norby, struggled there and then hit well in AA.

Trying to give him some more PAs, the Orioles sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he slashed .357/.385/.622/1.007 in 104 PAs with 5 home runs. Although the pitching quality was down, and the AFL is typically a hitter’s league, he finally showed his power potential when he started turning on some balls for home runs. He was even selected to be part of the home run derby, coming in second.

While he does hit righties a bit better than lefties, he doesn’t have a huge platoon difference.

Defensively, Kjerstad is fair at best out in right field where he catches everything hit to him, but he looks tentative at times with jumps and doesn’t have the footspeed to make up for the below average jumps. He’s got an average arm that can play in RF, but his throws can be inconsistent.

What we don’t know: Kjerstad started to pull the ball for power in the AFL after hitting most of home runs to left and left-center this year. Can he get the Bowie bump like Cowser and Norby? With a full offseason to get stronger, will next year be a break out year where his talent can shine through? Will he be able to adjust to upper level offspeed pitching? He’s only fair in RF defensively, so we he get better with more experience?

What we think: It was an up and down year for Kjerstad, but his AFL work ends the year on a positive note. We’ll have a better idea of what kind of player he may become after next season. He should start the year in Bowie (AA) and if he can put up some good power numbers next year there and end up with 200 PAs in AAA, he could be option for the Orioles by 2024 in RF.

The real question is what is his ceiling? It’s still tough to know because of all the injuries, but there is some pop in that bat. If he starts to tap into that more consistently, and can improve that hit tool as he moves up, he’s got a chance to be solid everyday RFer on a 1st Division team.

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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.