Minor Tuesday: Could Holliday and Kjerstad be nearing promotions? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Minor Tuesday: Could Holliday and Kjerstad be nearing promotions?

Heston Kjerstad
Photo Credit: Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports


Jackson Holliday isn’t having any problems adjusting to High-A ball. Holliday, who was the overall top selection in last July’s draft, is performing spectacularly for the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Holliday is batting .371 with four home runs and 20 RBIs with an eye-popping 1.127 OPS  in 27 games for the IronBirds. He was promoted after just 13 games for Single-A Delmarva, where he hit .392 with three homers and 15 RBIs.

The 19-year-old Holliday is thriving in Aberdeen, where three high draft choices — Colton Cowser, Gunnar Henderson and Heston Kjerstad — have stumbled.


If Holliday keeps up his outstanding play, the Orioles will have no choice but to send him to Double-A Bowie, a level where few teenagers play.

“Fingers crossed, if he stays healthy,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said at his media briefing last Friday. “This doesn’t look like a guy who’s going to stay in A-ball all year. We want to do the right thing by his development. I don’t think just skipping across the waves and not really spending any time there is a good idea, but we’ll move him if and when we think it’s the exact right thing to do for his development.

“Can’t say enough about how well he’s doing, and I’ll say I’ve been a part of a lot of big draft picks. I’ve probably never had one where I’ve worried this little about him and how well he goes about his business, and his skill level. I’m really glad we have him in the organization.”

Orioles infielder Ramón Urías played with Holliday during spring training and during his rehab assignment with Aberdeen last week.

“He’s nasty. He’s looks great,” Urías said. “I couldn’t believe he was only 19 years old. He has very good instincts. He’s raking right now.”

Elias couldn’t be more pleased with Holliday’s development.

“I think this is what I was hoping for when we took him,” Elias said. “To have it actually happen and get off this 1.000-plus OPS start in A-ball that he’s had, it’s hard to ever expect something like that so we knew he was polished, but I think what he’s doing in terms of the debut right now is kind of extreme.

“All I can say is, he’s putting the work in, he’s getting out there, he’s playing every day. He’s having fun. We couldn’t be more pleased that we took him. I think our scouting department did a great job. All the good stuff that we’ve got going on up here and in Triple-A, to have him doing what he’s doing, we’re in a very healthy spot.”

In his first full season in professional baseball, Kjerstad is hitting .304 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs and a .971 OPS in 40 games for Double-A Bowie, and he could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk.

“The offense has been terrific,” Ellas said. “I’ve talked about it enough, but just so great the spot that he’s in right now given the history and he’s doing great. We’re talking about what to do with him next.”

Kjerstad has played 14 games at first base for the Baysox, but he doesn’t see him changing positions permanently, and Elias isn’t sure when a move to Norfolk will occur.

“I’m not saying anything’s imminent. It’s becoming a constant conversation in the front office about when’s the right move for him and he’s primarily an outfielder,” Elias said. “I think he’s a better outfielder than first baseman, but as you’re seeing with his team right now, it’s really helping us that everyone on this team can play like three positions.

“There’s weird stuff with the lineups some nights and it gives Brandon [Hyde] the ability to do some creative things to keep bats in the lineups so I think this will be a great thing for Heston in his career if he can play a little first base, so that’s all that is, and also we’ve got a lot of prospects and it helps other people get those outfield reps when he’s playing first.”

Note: Baysox pitcher Carlos Tavera was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. Taveral threw five hitless inning in a start last week.

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