4 deserving Orioles players who'll be squeezed off 2024 Opening Day roster

Baltimore is going to have some really good players hanging out in the minor leagues to start the 2024 season.

Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers
Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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Heston Kjerstad

Heston Kjerstad is a tough case. Kjerstad has been through a lot ever since the Orioles picked him second overall in the 2020 MLB Draft. Hailed as one of the absolute best bats in his draft class, Kjerstad was diagnosed with a heart infection that kept him off the field until 2022 and forced him to play catchup.

However, catch up he did, as he slashed .309/.394/.457 in his first look at pro ball in 2022, and was even better in the minor leagues last season with a .904 OPS. In fact, he was so good in the minor leagues and made so much progress in a short period of time that the Orioles let him make a cameo appearance in the big leagues late in the season.

The issue for Kjerstad going into the 2024 season is the sheer amount of high quality bats Baltimore has in camp. Just among outfielders, the Orioles currently have Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, Colton Cowser, Kyle Stowers, Ryan McKenna, and Kjerstad competing for playing time. Even with the DH being available for plate appearances, that is a lot of guys for not a lot of available spots.

Kjerstad being on the 40-man roster helps his cause, but all of his competition is also on the 40-man, and several of them have had monster springs while Kjerstad has put up a .488 OPS down at camp. As a result, it looks like Kjerstad could be the odd man out and will be forced to get some more reps in the minor leagues while being one of the next guys up if someone gets hurt or falters during the season.