It took Heston Kjerstad two years after he was drafted to make his professional debut. He needed less than one to reach the cusp of the majors.
The Orioles are promoting Kjerstad, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk, a team source confirmed to The Baltimore Sun. The 24-year-old hit .310 with a .959 OPS for the Baysox.
Kjerstad developed myocarditis, a heart condition, shortly after Baltimore unexpectedly took him with its top pick in 2020. In the spring of 2022, he suffered a severe left hamstring straight that further delayed the start of his career. On June 10 — two years to the day after he was drafted — he made his professional debut with Low-A Delmarva.
He largely hasn’t stopped hitting since. Kjerstad, a left-handed hitter who impressed the Orioles with his power at the University of Arkansas, hit .463 with a 1.201 OPS for the Shorebirds. He struggled with High-A Aberdeen, a level that has challenged many of Baltimore’s top prospects, but ended 2022 by earning Most Valuable Player honors in the Arizona Fall League. Kjerstad hit .357 with a 1.007 OPS against some of the sport’s top rising players.
In his first major league spring training, Kjerstad again showcased his potential. He homered to opposite field twice in the Orioles’ Grapefruit League opener, finishing the exhibition slate with four home runs, a .381 average, an .810 slugging percentage and a 1.219 OPS.
He carried that success to Bowie, where he spent time at first base and both corner outfield spots. He’ll now try to continue it in Norfolk.