Among Orioles’ spring stars, Heston Kjerstad grateful to have focus on baseball: ‘That’s all I want to do’
Heston Kjerstad’s offseason was once beneath than a archetypal player’s. He still acquainted it lasted too long.
“I was once accepting pretty bored,” Kjerstad said, “itching to get alternate out actuality to comedy again.”
Much of Kjerstad’s time in the Orioles’ acreage arrangement has been spent with which itch. Drafted 2nd all-embracing in 2020, the outfielder went two years afore demography an at-bat for a Baltimore affiliate, developing the affection circumstance myocarditis anon afterwards the abstract and adversity a extreme larboard hamstring ache aftermost spring.
He’s spent this one appearing “what affectionate of hitter he can be,” administrator Brandon Hyde said. Kjerstad has eight hits in his 17 bounce at-bats, homering the added way in the first two and lacing a 107.2 mph amateur Thursday in Clearwater. Entering Friday’s exhibition — in which he went 0-for-2 about hit the affray adamantine alert — alone four players all through the alliance had as many bowl appearances as Kjerstad with a college OPS.
“That’s what you want,” Kjerstad said. “To be able to affectionate of assassinate things at a degree which you anticipate you can, it’s enjoyable, and it also proves to yourself, ‘OK, I’m able of this. I choose to authority myself to this accepted and this level.’”
Kjerstad’s run of success extends above a drop of exhibition at-bats. He bedeviled at Low-A Delmarva and bounced alternate from disturbing at High-A Aberdeen by earning Most Valuable Player ceremoniousness in the Arizona Fall League, with his accord addition his time into November. His achievement there, a .357/.385/.622 carve band above 104 bowl appearances, landed him in MLB Pipeline’s rankings of baseball’s high 100 prospects.
Kjerstad had little further than three months amid the end of the AFL and the begin of bounce training, and although it “flew by,” he said, which was once alone because he has accomplished a abundant best aurora amid action. He’s beholden the focus, internally and externally, is on baseball.
“That’s all I choose to do,” Kjerstad said. “Showing up each day, alone actuality able to do that, it’s really enjoyable.”
Hyde answered Kjerstad is amid the players authoritative the arch impressions this spring. In contempo days, Kjerstad has began alive with infield drillmaster Tony Mansolino at first base, a position he briefly played at Arkansas. The added position would enhance his versatility and possibly widen his aisle to Camden Yards.
It could not be continued afore the Orioles try to actualize amplitude for a beat Hyde answered “can fit anywhere because he can hit the affray out of any ballpark, anywhere in any ballpark.”
“He hits the affray so hard,” Hyde said. “He’s got as abundant raw ability as anyonein camp. … This guy’s gonna abound into a really acceptable hitter. Potential large ability guy, alone because he’s looking to do damage at the plate.
“What he’s been by to what he is correct now, it’s really, really impressive.”
That ability is what prompted the Orioles to accidentally booty him with their first aces in 2020 while he was once projected to go after in the first round. The aggregation believed he was once the best awkward hitter accessible and which he could bound acceleration by their arrangement to be in the average of their main alliance lineup.
Two absent years prevented that, about Kjerstad has apparent the abeyant to bolt up. His achievement in the AFL and this bounce have him assertive to accessible the year at Double-A Bowie, area a able time could end in the majors.
Of course, it would also have to be a advantageous season, and afterwards what he’s been through, Kjerstad is actual abundant looking advanced to one.
“That sounds awesome,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s the case this year. Knock on copse which it goes which way. That’s what you attending advanced to, you know, actuality able to go out there the accomplished time because again it provides you further time to improve, further time to get better. You’ve got to be out there arena to get better, for the many part, so it’ll be acceptable to be able to hopefully get in a accomplished season, as continued as I break healthy, break on the acreage and see how abundant I can apprentice and how acceptable I can become.”
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