Baltimore Orioles: Trust the process

If you read the twitterverse, you know that numerous Baltimore Orioles’ fans were shocked and many were dismayed at the team picking Heston Kjerstad second overall out of Arkansas last night. I’m not going to suggest that I saw them going in that direction. Is it possible and perhaps probable that it was done for financial reasons? Yes. However GM Mike Elias made it very clear that they’re really big on Kjerstad’s bat.

When I looked at his power stats, it was evident to me that part of why they liked him was because he hit from the left side. The short porch in right field at Camden Yards came to mind immediately. And in fact, Elias indicated that Kjerstad’s hitting style would fit well in Camden Yards. He was considered the second best power option in the entire draft.

However again, there seems to be angst among the fan base with this pick. Many folks wanted Elias to select third baseman Austin Martin out of Vanderbilt. However he fell to fifth and was selected by Toronto. Sometimes drafts have surprises. Martin may well have been the right guy to select. Kjerstad could end up a bust. Or he might not.

I would simply say that Mike Elias and his team have researched all of these players for a long time. They know what the needs of the team are, and they obviously felt after a large amount of research that Kjerstad was the guy to select. I think that fans have to trust that research. It’s all part of trusting the process.

The story of this draft won’t be written now. Or this year, or the year after. It won’t be written for another 3-5 years, when the players who were selected last night are starting to come onto the league’s stage. If Kjerstad’s a perennial all-star, we’ll know they made the right decision. If not, then it’s fair to question what went into picking him.

The Orioles also selected shortstop Jordan Westburg from Mississippi State with the 30th pick. Again, trust the process.

Baltimore Orioles draft OF Heston Kjerstad from Arkansas

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.