Orioles Draft Heston Kjerstad, RF Arkansas

The Orioles threw us a curveball with their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, going with Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad. The guys on the ESPN broadcast were calling him the second-best power bat in the draft, after Spencer Torkelson, who went first overall to Detroit.

His coach at Arkansas called him “the best left-handed hitter in the country.” He was number 10 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. Here’s what they wrote about him, pre-draft:

“A 36th-round pick by the Mariners as a Texas high schooler in 2017, Kjerstad teamed with fellow top prospect Casey Martin to lead Arkansas to back-to-back College World Series appearances in their first two years of college. His 14 homers in 2018 broke the school freshman record of 13 set by eventual first-rounder Zack Cox in 2009, and Kjerstad encored with 17 as a sophomore. He offers the best left-handed power in the 2020 college class and only potential No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson has more pop among collegians.

Kjerstad’s strength and bat speed give him well above-average raw power to all fields. He has a complicated swing that features a big hand circle in his load, so he has to be precise with his timing to make it work — but he has done so in college and was the top performer in the U.S. collegiate team’s lineup last summer. He’s an aggressive hitter who always will accumulate strikeouts as a tradeoff for his pop.

Though Kjerstad records below-average running times out of the batter’s box, he displays average speed once he gets going. He’s not a threat on the bases but plays a capable right field. His huge power and solid arm strength fit the profile for the position.”

With this pick, expect the Orioles to aim for an over-slot high school prospect at picks 30 and/or 39. For more on that, read this piece from ESR’s Aidan Griesser.

This entry was posted in Bird Feed, Blog View, Featured by Derek Arnold. Bookmark the permalink.

About Derek Arnold

RSR/ESR Senior Editor. Derek is originally from and a current resident of Pasadena, MD. He’s a graduate of UMBC and has been a lifelong Baltimore sports fan. In 2007 he founded B’More Birds’ Nest, where he wrote about the Ravens and Orioles before joining RSR in 2012. Derek tells anyone...more

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