Kjerstad says decision to sign with Orioles was an obvious one - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2020 MLB Draft

Kjerstad says decision to sign with Orioles was an obvious one

Heston Kjerstad
Photo Credit: Rich Dubroff

In this most complicated of years, one decision was easy for Heston Kjerstad. As soon as the Orioles selected him with the second pick of June’s draft, he knew there wasn’t a chance that he’d return to the University of Arkansas for his senior season.

“No way,” Kjerstad said in a Tuesday morning Zoom call. “Once you get drafted, that’s a once-in-a -ifetime opportunity. To be the second overall pick, that’s something you dream about your whole life and it was my time to move on from college baseball and start my journey into professional baseball, and see where it takes me.”

The 21-year-old outfielder signed on Monday for a $5.2 bonus, well below slot value.

“We feel that he is the headliner of what’s going to be a very impactful draft class over all,” Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said.

“He’s an extremely decorated and productive college player that has performed very highly at the highest levels of amateur baseball, both in the Southeastern Conference and the Team USA program, and what we saw that led us to select Heston with this pick was a rare combination of power and the ability to hit for average.”

Elias said that there was no immediate plan to add Kjerstad to the 60-man player pool, which has 16 openings for summer training. The Orioles think they’ll need many of those players in the major leagues for the 60-game season and don’t want to use a spot for a promising young player.

“We’re taking those decisions slowly and carefully,” Elias said. “That’s why we’ve only announced 44 players so far.”

Kjerstad has already been in touch with minor league hitting coaches as well as strength and conditioning coaches, but without minor league games, he has a challenging 2020 ahead of him.

“It’s definitely tough not to be able to go out and play games,” Kjerstad said. “It’s the best way to improve as a player is to be playing every day and facing high-level competition.

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“Every minor leaguer is struggling with the same thing. Nobody’s going to face competition. You’re going to need to be a little bit creative in your training.”

Kjerstad hopes to get live at-bats somewhere as well as working with pitching machines.

The Orioles have known about Kjerstad for many years. Their area scout, Ken Guthrie, has known Kjerstad since he was 10 or 11 when he coached his older brother. He first saw Kjerstad play in the summer before his senior year in high school, when he dropped switch-hitting and began to hit from the left side, even though he’s a natural right-hander.

“In high school, he was much smaller,” Guthrie said about the 6-foot-3, 220-pound outfielder.

When he first saw him as a freshman at Arkansas, the scout was amazed by how much he had grown in a year.

“He looked like a completely different person,” Guthrie said. “I knew right then and there that I probably underestimated what his power tools were going to be … He proved my notion right that day.”

Kjerstad compares his swing to playing guitar.

“It’s my form of art, and you kind of have your own unique rhythm,” he said.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    July 1, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Put a couple of your future guys up so they experience it, you don’t have to start their damn clocks, but almost every other team has some of their future on the list so they can experience a part of it, especially since there are no minors this yr, your coaches can work with them every day…go O’s…

    • willmiranda

      July 2, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Cals, if the other, successful teams are doing something, the O’s will not do it simply because the Birdbrains
      are so much smarter than everybody else. (sarcasm intended)

    • CalsPals

      July 2, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Lmao, gotcha…too bad…go O’s…

  2. CalsPals

    July 2, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Marlins sign/add #3 pick to their 60 man roster…go O’s…

  3. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 2, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    The old saying applies here – Only fools rush in – “That’s something that we’re assessing and deciding as we go with any candidate for that pool,” Elias said. “Our analysis of the rules and the season and the way it’s structured is that bringing up young minor leaguers for player development purposes has some risks in terms of your roster flexibility and potentially if you have to tap into the depth on your roster, you’re going to need those spots potentially during the year. Players that are not on the 40-man roster, you can’t get them out of that pool if you do ever need to without releasing them effectively and obviously nobody wants to do that.

    “So we’re taking those decisions pretty slowly and carefully and that’s why we’ve only announced 44 players so far. We’ll just see how it all unfolds.”

    So take your time, no reason to rush into any decisions if you don’t need to. Smart move no sarcasm

  4. CalsPals

    July 2, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    I think Mike is sending a message, on purpose or not, to any young player the O’s have, we’re not gonna make any decision that doesn’t benefit us, forget what might be, I can’t see how playing the youngens & seeing what you really have is a negative…no sarcasm…all opinion…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      July 2, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      Just for the record neither Torkelson or Meyer were added to the 40 man roster. They were placed on the 60 man Summer Camp roster. In other words, they aren’t going to be playing this year. That would require adding them to the 40 man roster and placing them on the 26 man roster. Most likely they will be working out at their teams minor league facilities. Eventually the Orioles will add some of their prospects to the minor league facilities. The original 44 were only those who had a shot at the Opening Day roster. They want the flexibility to add waiver claims as they become available. They don’t want someone taking up space on the 60 man roster who might prevent them from adding someone who can help this year. So eventually Rutschman, Kjerstad and others will wind up on a practice field somewhere. Just won’t be playing in a game

    • CalsPals

      July 2, 2020 at 6:56 pm

      Agree, never said 40 man roster, said 60 man, he’s playing games, just add them…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      July 2, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      Meyer will not be playing any MLB games this year. He is just going to be working out with the Marlins. He would have to be added to the 40 man roster to actually play in a game

  5. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 2, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Some people say play your best players no matter what. Then they do a 180 and they say bring up the minor leaguers who have no experience playing in the major leagues such as Chance Sisco. He was “supposed to be the best catcher in in their system at the time and now rides the pine as a backup. Smart move no sarcasm.

    • CalsPals

      July 2, 2020 at 6:58 pm

      FYI, many of the “minor” leaguers are their best…again some one has a different opinion than you & they’re wrong…look who’s trolling…you can look it up if you’re not sure what it means…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        July 3, 2020 at 7:02 am

        Wasn’t trolling. And I didn’t mention your name. All about if the shoe fits… remember… It seems you were annoyed by my opinion.

        And if Sisco was the best, why isn’t he the starting catcher??? What, no answer???

    • CalsPals

      July 3, 2020 at 9:02 am

      Mike, apparently you & your team don’t think he is the best, I never said he was, you did…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        July 3, 2020 at 11:34 am

        Don’t put words on me, I never said he was or wasn’t the best. I was asking the question to you since you were the one raving/craving for him to be brought up from the minors. Apparently you’re the one that can’t remember so rusty steel trap belongs to you.

        And now you’re doing the same for Mountcastle and Rutschman. And if you didn’t think he was the best then why bring him up??? To sit on the bench??? Play your best no matter what are your words not mine.

        Now maybe, hopefully someday soon Sisco turns into the hype he received but he certainly won’t do it from the bench in the majors as his clock dwindles down.

    • CalsPals

      July 3, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Hey steel trap, you’ve got me confused with someone else, don’t have a problem w/Sisco, but have NEVER been a cheerleader for him…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 4, 2020 at 12:52 am

      And when Chance Sisco becomes a bona-fide major league hitter, I’ll be there to remind you of your premature judgement of the kid. For supposedly being a scout, you don’t seem to recognize a sweet swing and a natural talent when you see it.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        July 8, 2020 at 3:37 pm

        Apparently you cannot read my quote “Don’t put words on me, I never said he was or wasn’t the best. I was asking the question to you since you were the one raving/craving for him to be brought up from the minors.” And then said “Now maybe, hopefully someday soon Sisco turns into the hype he received but he certainly won’t do it from the bench in the majors as his clock dwindles down.” So learn how to read before you jump to conclusions!

        I may have to save this for the short memory BRR! lol

    • CalsPals

      July 4, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Maybe we misunderstood what type of scout, may have been forward scout for General Custer, yeah, that’s it, makes perfect sense now…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      July 4, 2020 at 8:35 am

      Not annoyed by your opinion, annoyed by you…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        July 8, 2020 at 3:39 pm

        Good… Mission accomplished!

  6. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 3, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    No confusion here. Seems you talk out of both sides of your mouth. And in two years you’ll be saying the same thing about Mountcastle!!! Just can’t admit you were wrong!!!

    • CalsPals

      July 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      You are number one…lmao…go O’s…

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