Twenty-two games at the lowest-level full-season affiliate were a sufficient sample size.
The Orioles didn’t need to see any more from outfielder Heston Kjerstad. There was no reason to keep him down any longer.
Kjerstad has been promoted from Single-A Delmarva to high Single-A Aberdeen, with his latest debut set for Tuesday night against Jersey Shore at Ripken Stadium.
The latest reward for a player chosen second overall in the 2020 draft out of the University of Arkansas and unable to play his first professional game until June 10 due to the pandemic, a diagnosis of myocarditis, a setback later and a hamstring injury in March shortly before spring training.
Through it all, Kjerstad somehow maintained a positive attitude and earned a bump to Aberdeen after batting .463/.551/.650 with nine doubles, two home runs, 17 RBIs and 13 walks in 98 plate appearances with the Shorebirds.
MLBPipeline.com ranks Kjerstad as the No. 8 prospect in the organization. The seven players above him have risen to Double-A or Triple-A. Catcher Adley Rutschman is with the Orioles and doesn’t qualify any longer.
The minors usually shut down on Mondays except for some promotions, and today was no exception.
Multiple sources indicated last week that Kjerstad was likely to join Aberdeen for Tuesday’s game.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias didn’t offer a confirmation Saturday when asked about it.
“That’s something that we decide when the off-days roll around, but his Delmarva debut has gone probably as well as it possibly could have gone,” Elias said. “It’s good that he’s feeling healthy, obviously, and I don’t think we’re going to leave him there all year.”
Kjerstad didn’t make it past the weekend.
The Orioles anticipated that he'd move quickly through the system after drafting him, and it’s possible that he gets some at-bats with the Bowie Baysox later this summer. Depends how he's hitting and how he's feeling.
The organization has a track record of introducing some prospects to three levels within a year, including infielders Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson last season.
Third baseman Coby Mayo advanced from Aberdeen to Bowie, but he went on the injured list with back spasms.