With several Baltimore Orioles players participating in the World Baseball Classic, this is the time of spring training where top prospects are getting some run in major league camp with the WBC players representing their countries. One prospect that has been making the most of his spring training is outfielder Heston Kjerstad.
The rise of Kjerstad has been well documented since he returned to the field with Low A Delmarva and hit .463 in 22 games before being promoted to High-A Aberdeen. At the conclusion of the minor league season, Kjerstad played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League and went on such a tear that he was named league MVP.
On Monday's split squad game against the Atlanta Braves, Kjerstad went 2-for-3 in North Port, including quite an impressive home run at the Braves spring training home.
Orioles prospect Heston Kjerstad hits impressive home run
After the game on Monday, Kjerstad is 11-for-23 over 15 games, which is a .478 batting average on the spring. The aforementioned homer against the Braves is his third of the spring, which ties him with fellow outfielder Austin Hays for the team lead this spring. It was his first home run since February 25 against the Minnesota Twins, which was a two homer game in the Orioles grapefruit league opener. Brandon Hyde had this to say on Kjerstad's spring performance:
"What’s been remarkable is how hard he hits the baseball. It’s really impressive. This guy’s going to grow into a really good hitter, a potential huge power guy. He’s looking to do damage at the plate, and he puts swings to the baseball like he’s trying to do damage.""
Other Baltimore Orioles spring training highlights
The other half of the Orioles split squad played the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The Orioles hit six home runs off Tigers pitching in the win. Hays, Franchy Cordero, Colton Cowser, Adam Frazier, Hudson Haskin, and Jacob Teter all went deep.
Relief pitcher Nick Vespi, working his way back from offseason hernia surgery, pitched in the Detroit game for his Grapefruit league debut, allowing one run in his one inning of work, striking out two hitters. There is some question whether he'll be ready for opening day, but it seems probable that he will be.