Heston Kjerstad says he's 'stoked' by Orioles' selection - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2020 MLB Draft

Heston Kjerstad says he’s ‘stoked’ by Orioles’ selection

Heston Kjerstad
Photo credit: Rich Dubroff

In a surprise, the Orioles chose Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the second selection in Wednesday’s Major League Baseball draft.

Kjerstad’s pick came after the Detroit Tigers, as expected, grabbed Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the first overall selection.

“I’m just excited to be a part of Birdland now and embark on my next journey,” Kjerstand said in a video conference call on Wednesday night.

“I’m just stoked to be a part of the Orioles, and it’s a dream come true for me.”

Although Kjerstad’s name had been linked to the Orioles, most mock drafts had the team taking Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin, whom Kjerstad played against in the Southeastern Conference.

“They showed quite a bit of interest,” Kjerstad said. “They said I was still in consideration for their No. 2 pick going into the draft today. I wasn’t really trying to get my hopes up for any pick.

“Sure enough, after the Detroit Tigers turned in their pick, the phone rang, and it’s the Orioles, and they wanted to pick me … I couldn’t say ‘yes’ quick enough to that.”

In his three years at Arkansas, Kjerstad, a left-handed hitter with power, hit .343 with a 1.011 OPS.

The 21-year-old from Amarillo, Texas hit .327 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs as a sophomore. Kjerstad, who played right field with the Razorbacks, hit .448 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 16 games in his abbreviated junior season.

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“I bring a lot to the table, baseball-wise,” Kjerstad said when asked for a self-description. “For them, the makeup is what helped push me along on their board — the type of kid I am.”

Orioles scout Ken Guthrie has known Kjerstad’s family for many years, he pointed out.

Kjerstad mentioned that Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias spoke with him on Zoom.

“I think that Zoom went pretty good with him and convinced him to have confidence in picking me,” Kjerstad said.

Kjerstad, who’s listed at 6 feet 3, 205 pounds, doesn’t lack for confidence.

“I’m going to be an impact player, for sure,” he said. “I bring a left-handed bat to the lineup that has power to all parts of the field — left, right and center — and I also bring a good glove to the outfield, whether it’s left or right. Wherever they put me, I’ll be a solid defender.

“One of the things that really contributes to helping a team win is … my camaraderie that I’m able to develop with my teammates, and what kind of teammate I am with them.”

Kjerstad lauded his father for helping him develop as a player.

“I’m pretty sure I owe him a new shoulder for how much he threw,” he said.

Kjerstad said he’ll have to do a crash course on the Orioles. He played in a high school all-star game in Texas with Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ No. 1 pick in 2018. He also played at Arkansas with minor league pitcher Blaine Knight.

“I think they run the best minor league system in all of baseball,” Kjerstad said. “With Mike Elias taking over, he really does a good job at player development. I can’t wait to get started.”

The Orioles selected shortstop Jordan Westburg with the 30th overall pick, the first pick in the competitive balance round.

Westburg, who’s 21, hit .285 in three years at Mississippi State.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. gijopro

    June 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    really!!!! we only get 5 picks we have the most slotted money to spend in the majors and they go cheap!!!! Matt Hobgood 2.0.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      Six picks, not five.

  2. Phil770

    June 10, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Very disappointing…. 2nd best player to Toronto…wow.

    • CalsPals

      June 10, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      & like they needed MORE good young players…boy genius…wow…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 10, 2020 at 7:52 pm

        Watch it CPs .. someone is waiting to blast you!

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 10, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    The boy genius whiffs.

    Playing games with $$ instead of taking the best player available.

    Grandstanding GM…..sheeeeesh.

  4. DC Skins

    June 10, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    UGGGGG!!!

    Elias better make up for it at 30 and 39.

    I feel bad for Kjerstad because I doubt he will live up to be the 2nd pick.

    And every time he strikes out, if people boo, it’s booing Elias. Poor kid!

  5. surfbird

    June 10, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    wow this is really a blah pick. 3rd best outfielder per mlb.com ratings. guess chris davis will take him under his wing and show him how to really whiff. ugh

    • DC Skins

      June 10, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      What a disgusting, but funny thought, surfbird!

    • CalsPals

      June 10, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      Rich defended the pick when I said he wasn’t mentioned by anyone I’ve read in mock drafts…oh well, I guess asking for Adley last yr was too much…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      I didn’t defend the pick, Ray. I just pointed out that he was mentioned as a possibility.

    • CalsPals

      June 10, 2020 at 8:05 pm

      Not in the top 2….go O’s….

  6. Bhoffman1

    June 10, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    The last time I looked we had no third basemen prospect in our system. Boy genius picked a number 10 to 20 pick as 2. What a disappointment

  7. CalsPals

    June 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    MLB, might be a DH, concern K’s…don’t we have quite a few of those…go O’s…

  8. Mikepete73

    June 10, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    this has an Angelo’s feel to it. well being excited about a change didnt last long back to being a cheaply run team. can not believe they passed on martin

  9. willmiranda

    June 10, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Hey, let’s give the kid a chance. And let’s hope the O’s give him #2 money. Let them show
    faith in more than their own dubious cleverness.

    • DC Skins

      June 10, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      No way. You do this so you can pay more to hard to sign guys later.

  10. ClayDal

    June 10, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    It doesn’t look like Westburg fell to the Orioles at 30. He was taken pretty much as expected. So much for taking one guy under slot so you can take someone over slot. This will be Elias’s defining draft. Rutschman last year was a no brainer, consensus #1. This could work one of two ways. Kjerstad winds up a star and Elias is hailed as a genius. Then when his contract runs out, he can go to the Angels or Padres and hang out at the beach. If Kjerstad is a bust, Elias he can wind up in Bristol, Connecticut hanging out with Stephen A Smith

  11. BirdsCaps

    June 10, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about college ball, but I never heard his name mentioned as a potential pick (mlb had I’m as falling 7th or 8th)While I would give the ravens front office the benefit of the doubt with a head scratcher, an angelos run (generally cheapskate) organization will always make me wonder if this was a cost saving move. This could be like trading veteran pieces for international slot money (2017) and not use it, thus the trades were just cost cutting or really stupid front office moves. Unfortunately, the birds don’t have any good will built to convince me that for sure this was the best option. Hopefully it works out.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 10, 2020 at 10:33 pm

      Stephen, unlike the NFL draft, the MLB draft takes five years before you can judge it.

      • BirdsCaps

        June 10, 2020 at 10:54 pm

        Agreed,
        However the quote unquote experts had other players going well before Kjerstad. If the knowledge in the mock drafts is good and the birds don’t make up for it by signing some of the other draftees above slot , the orioles were either uninformed, held eccentric views about the players ,or were cheap with this pick (the track record of ownership being cheap leads me to be pessimistic).With that said, this guy could be better than trout. Let’s hope the players we draft turn out to be superstars..

  12. DC Skins

    June 10, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    Prediction for 39 Rich? (and everyone?)

    I am hoping for Dax Fulton.
    But Blaze Jordan would be interesting.

    Then Nick Frasso in the 3rd.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2020 at 11:30 am

      Skins, having predicted Austin Martin, I’ll allow you to make the predictions!

  13. garyintheloo

    June 10, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    I must admit the #2 pick felt like a disappointment to me as well but give the kid a break. Mike Trout was picked 25th and he is the prime pick of the decade. He will be compared to Martin a lot over the next four years but time will reveal.

    • Tony Paparella

      June 11, 2020 at 10:02 am

      Trout was a high schooler so his stats were not defined as say an Austin Martin or Gonzalez or Lacy.I would haved hoped for one of the higher rated guys,especially if the pick was on me and I represented a team trying to get off the floorthat they have been on for such a long time.No one would have questioned any of the top rated guys being picked and the fans would have been more excited and optimistic.We will just have to wait and see but I don’t think Kjerstad is a guy you have to wait 5 years for at this part of his development.If so we may have made a mistake.

  14. BirdsCaps

    June 11, 2020 at 12:03 am

    Let’s hope the birds go for an over slot player with the next pick. Obviously dollars spent does not equal a good long term player, but since they punted at #2, they have been cheap for a reason. Let’s hope the draft strategy isn’t just to save $. P.S. it is a shame the birds couldn’t have traded the pick like other sports allow.

  15. texramey

    June 11, 2020 at 2:51 am

    Well heck the Red Sox took the 139 th rated player! I wanted Martin but I trust Elias. And the Westburg is solid

  16. In The Triangle

    June 11, 2020 at 6:45 am

    A lot of teams made picks that I did not expect. I’m not really sure why yet.

    We might need a someone in the dugout to beat on a trash can to make this one look good…

    • DC Skins

      June 11, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Oh no you DIDn’t! LOL

  17. DC Skins

    June 11, 2020 at 8:59 am

    I originally said I hoped we would pick Dax Fulton at 39.

    But now that I look at the list of best available, Jared Kelly is still out there and is the one who would make saving all of the slot money worth it!

    Clayton Beeter also looks great but has been injured so much.

    Soooo, coming out of this draft with Kjerstad, Westburg AND JARED KELLY…. now you’re talkin!

  18. DC Skins

    June 11, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Also, Masyn Winn is such an exciting prospect. I can totally see Elias picking him. He is proficient as a SS and a starting pitcher. Very athletic, and knows how to play the game.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2020 at 11:32 am

      How about Cole Wilcox? Do you like him, Skins?

  19. VegasOriole

    June 11, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    My god can we please select a pitcher? Its been almost 25 years SINCE WE HAD AN ABOVE AVERAGE PITCHING STAFF! Cant go anywhere without pitching!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 11, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      I disagree. You go right back to the top of draft order without pitching.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 11, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      David, in 2014, the Orioles had an excellent pitching staff–as I wrote about last week.

      • VegasOriole

        June 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm

        Yes, read that Rich. Awesome article, man that was our year. Im talking about starting pitchers that we can grow and stay in our organization. I was hoping for Hancock or Lacy, since we didnt draft a pitcher until the 8th round last year(since last year was a bad year for pitchers)

  20. DC Skins

    June 11, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Boog, so maybe we are on track for the first overall pick next year.

    And we will gladly take KUMAR ROCKER?

    RIGHT?? HOORAY!!!!

    WAIT— NOOOOOO, we take the 10th best player available instead because Elias knows better than anyone else.

  21. dlgruber1

    June 11, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    So, in a draft ALL the experts said was a very good draft for pitchers, the O’s have not chosen a pitcher yet thru 4 rounds. I didn’t realize the O’s had such a pitching surplus that they could afford to do that.

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