The Baltimore Orioles kind of shocked the experts this evening in drafting OF Heston Kjerstad out of the University of Arkansas. Over three years at Arkansas, Kjerstad’s hit .343. He also has an OBP of .421, and he’s hit 37 homers with 121 RBI.
Again, this was a surprise pick. The Orioles went with an underslot selection, presumably because he’ll sign for cheaper. That gives them more money to spread over their other picks.
Kjerstad is considered the second best power hitter in the draft. So he does have a tremendous upside. He also hits from the left side, which is good with Camden Yards’ short porch in right field.
One concern is his 129 strikeouts, which means he swings for the fences. However the understanding is that he’s worked on cutting down his swing. Hopefully for the Orioles’ sake some of the minor league coaches can work with him on that.
This is a selection that will be scrutinized a bit both nationally and locally. Mainly because it was unexpected. But Kjerstad appears to have a bright future in baseball. Just because it was an unexpected pick doesn’t mean it’s running a terrible risk.