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Orioles 2023 #4 prospect Heston Kjerstad - RF


Tony-OH

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https://orioleshangout.com/2023/11/16/2023-4-prospect-heston-kjerstad-rf-1b/

The 24-year old outfielder went from AA to the major leagues this season with a solid offensive season. That offensive potential sees him come in as the #4 prospect in the system.

Heston Kjerstad
Pos: OF
Bats: L
Throws: R
Age (as of Jun 30th) : 24
2023 Level: AA/AAA/MAJ

Tools (current/future value)
Hit: 45/50
Game Power: 45/60
Raw Power: 65/65
Run: 50/45
Defense: 40/45

Most Likely Future Role: Starting right fielder
Ceiling: 1st Division Starting right fielder

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What we know: The Orioles 1st pick (2nd overall) in the 2020 made his way from AA to the major league in his second full professional season.

The 24-year old left-handed hitting outfielder's bat will be his calling card and he had quite a season. Between Bowie (AA) and Norfolk, he hit collected 58 extra base hits including 21 home runs while slashing .303/.376/.529 in 543 PAs. Kjerstad was known for making consistent hard contact putting up a
10% barrel rate, and an 89.5 MPH average exit velocity while making solid contact with 74% Contact and 87% ZCon rates. His 34.7% line drive rate at AAA was heads and shoulders better than anyone in the system.

In his 33 major league PAs, he had a 92.5 EV, 107.6 max EV, and 55% hard hit rate. His first major league hit was a 418 foot home run to right field. He showed no platoon difference in the minors this season, but only received one PA vs left-handers at the major league level.

Kjerstad has no issue with hitting velocity, but can struggle with the down and in sliders at times though he's shown the ability to make adjustments. There is very little doubt his bat will play at the major league level.

Defensively, Kjerstad is below average in right field who can struggle at times with his jumps and routes. While he has average footspeed when he gets going, he doesn't have a quick first step. His arm this season seemed to fall off a bit and would now rate as a below average arm, especially for RF. His throws are accurate but inconsistent. Knowing his defensive short comings, the Orioles started to convert him to first base where he made 38 starts. He improved a bit throughout the year but has some ways to go to be playable there at the major league level. He surprisingly struggled on pop ups from the first base position.

On the bases, he has slightly above average sprint speed on the bases and run well on the go, but he does not have a quick first step and will not steal bases.

What we don't know: While his bat is going to play, the biggest question is where does he play defensively? He'll get an entre offseason to work on his first base skills and that might be his best place to play in the long run unless his jumps and routes can improve in the outfield. The only question with the bat is penchant to chase the down and in slider out of the zone. He's not a big strike out guy, but his power output at AAA was a bit of a disappointment so it bares watching how often he can get to his game power in 2024

What we think: Kjerstad is ready to be an everyday major league hitter and depending on the Orioles offseason, it could be as the Orioles everyday RF or first baseman. How often he can get to his game power and his eventual defensive value will determine his overall ceiling.

He's got all the makings though of being a middle of the order major league hitte

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The defensive report on Kjerstad is a little worse than I expected, but it squares with how the Orioles used him.  Sounds like he’d be a step down from Santander defensively.   Honestly, based on Cowser’s defensive write-up and this one, I might be inclined to have Cowser above Kjerstad on my personal list, even though Kjerstad may be the slightly better hitter.   But maybe this is a Santander/Hays situation, where they both bring value in different ways.  A lot of posters seem to prefer Santander with his HR/RBI numbers, even though Hays’ defense gives him the WAR edge (9.0/7.9 rWAR, 7.0/6.9 fWAR).   

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3 minutes ago, Frobby said:

The defensive report on Kjerstad is a little worse than I expected, but it squares with how the Orioles used him.  Sounds like he’d be a step down from Santander defensively.   Honestly, based on Cowser’s defensive write-up and this one, I might be inclined to have Cowser above Kjerstad on my personal list, even though Kjerstad may be the slightly better hitter.   But maybe this is a Santander/Hays situation, where they both bring value in different ways.  A lot of posters seem to prefer Santander with his HR/RBI numbers, even though Hays’ defense gives him the WAR edge (9.0/7.9 rWAR, 7.0/6.9 fWAR).   

I have no issue with having a primary DH.  Just have to figure out what to do with him on the days you want Adley there.

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HK's bat has been good to see.  Lowering his K% while improving his ISO.  Baltimore really needs the ISO bump heading into 2024.  

SSS and all, but HK's MLB ISO was second best on the team at .233 (behind Gunnar's .234).  O'Hearn (4th) was at .191, Santander (3rd) was at .215, Mounty (6th) was .182.  I tend to think those are the buckets his PAs will pull from.  That's a higher barrier to entry than what Cowser faces with Hays (offensively speaking).  I was a bit surprised to see him ahead of Norby in AAA ISO.  But the other guys ahead of him in ISO (other than Mayo) have the experience edge too.  Baltimore's team ISO average was .166 for context.  Anyway, fair concern but I don't think it's a big concern.

Love to see the splits balance with really good stats both ways!  

A few big 'ifs' for HK and Mayo...  But IF Mayo can stick at 3B and IF HK can stick at 1B and (to a lesser degree) IF the O's do something with O'Hearn...  How fun would an infield of Mayo-Gunnar-Jackson-HK-Adley be!?  Max offense, plus defense up the middle, big arm at 3B, the OF remains a strength (Hays/Mullins/Cowser/Santander).

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29 minutes ago, wildcard said:

Your writeup makes me think that Kjerstad has more work to do at AAA defensively.

I think the MLB PAs will have more future value than whether improvement he can make defensively in AAA. 

The only caveat to that is if they are fully transitioning him to be a 1B.  And I don't think we'll see that unless something happens to Mounty and/or O'Hearn (and/or Santander).  Just too much ahead of him to really think 1B is his 2024 position.

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41 minutes ago, btdart20 said:

I think the MLB PAs will have more future value than whether improvement he can make defensively in AAA. 

The only caveat to that is if they are fully transitioning him to be a 1B.  And I don't think we'll see that unless something happens to Mounty and/or O'Hearn (and/or Santander).  Just too much ahead of him to really think 1B is his 2024 position.

And Mayo.

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54 minutes ago, btdart20 said:

 

SSS and all, but HK's MLB ISO was second best on the team at .233 (behind Gunnar's .234).  

SSS?  Yeah, I’d say so.  I wouldn’t use 33 PA and 7 hits to judge anyone’s ISO.  That said, I’d fully expect him to land in the .200+ category.  You can see when he swings that even his lazy fly balls have a ton of carry.   

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9 minutes ago, Frobby said:

SSS?  Yeah, I’d say so.  I wouldn’t use 33 PA and 7 hits to judge anyone’s ISO.  That said, I’d fully expect him to land in the .200+ category.  You can see when he swings that even his lazy fly balls have a ton of carry.   

LOL, agreed.  If say Vavra posted a .233 ISO, I wouldn't have mentioned it.  But HK comes with a power profile/past.  

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