Outfielder Heston Kjerstad and shortstop Jackson Holliday, the Orioles’ top draft picks in 2020 and 2022, are beginning their first full professional seasons with Double-A Bowie and Single-A Delmarva on Thursday.
Kjerstad, who was the overall No. 2 pick in 2020, didn’t play a professional game until June 9th, 2021. In 2020, there was no minor league season because of the pandemic, and in 2021, myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, prevented him from playing.
In 2022, a hamstring injury delayed Kjerstad’s debut. After playing 22 games with Delmarva and 43 with Aberdeen, Kjerstad hit .381 with four home runs and nine RBIs in his first major league spring training.
Holliday, who was the overall No. 1 pick last year, has played in just 20 pro games, 12 with the Shorebirds and eight in the Florida Complex League last year. He hit .429 (6-for-14) with an RBI after he received a spring training invite,
Kjerstad will be joined by six players who received invitations to spring training — infielders Coby Mayo and César Prieto, who both finished the season with Bowie; catcher Ramón Rodriguez; left-hander Cade Povich; and right-handers Wandisson Charles and Kade Strowd.
Several other players who were regularly summoned as extra players for Grapefruit League games are also on the Baysox’s roster, including infielders Collin Burns and Jacob Teter, and pitchers Jensen Elliott, Connor Loeprich, Easton Lucas and Nolan Hoffman, who saved four games.
ESPN rated Mayo the 47thbest prospect in minor league ball, and Povich the 54th.
Also on Bowie’s roster is right-hander Chaynce McDermott, rated the 19th best Orioles prospect by MLB Pipeline, and outfielder John Rhodes, rated 21st. Prieto is rated 18th.
Holliday, who is ESPN’s 17th-best prospect, will be joined at Delmarva by catcher Samuel Basallo, MLB Pipeline’s 12th-rated Orioles prospect, and infielder Carter Young, rated 30th.
Among the Shorebirds’ pitchers is 7-footer Jared Beck, the Orioles’ 13th-round pick in 2022. Beck pitched for Delmarva and in the Florida Complex League last year.
The IronBirds’ pitching staff features Daniel Federman and Ryan Long, who played in the World Baseball Classic. Federman joined Dean Kremer on Team Israel and Long pitched on Team England.
Outfielders Dylan Beavers, who was the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 draft, and Jud Fabian, a second-round pick last year, infielders Frederick Bencosme, and Max Wagner, the 42nd overall selection, are also at Aberdeen.
Beavers (11), Wagner (14), Fabian (17) and Bencosme (22) are also among the top 30 MLB Pipeline prospects.