The Orioles are only going to have to wait a longer to get an idea of the potential of minor-league outfielder Heston Kjerstad.
Kjerstad, who was the second overall pick in last year’s draft, was diagnosed with myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — that sidelined him in 2020. The hope was that Kjerstad could get back on the field this season, but there are still concerns with his condition.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias expects Kjerstad to get back on the diamond at some point, but the outfielder has experienced recurrent inflammation of his heart.
“This is a bump in the road,” Elias said. “It’s a tricky condition, it’s a very serious one that requires us to be careful and deliberate. I do expect this will back up our timeline for getting him back on the field, and it’s something we probably can’t put an artificial timeline on. We’re going to have to provide some further rest before entering a return-to-play protocol once again.”
Kjerstad has not been assigned to an Orioles affiliate.
In his final year at the University of Arkansas, he slashed .448/.513/.791 (30-for-67) with five doubles, six home runs, 19 runs and 20 RBIs in a 16-game shortened season because of the pandemic. He was ranked as the No. 10 overall draft prospect by MLB.com and the No. 13 prospect by Baseball America.
Now, his career is on hold.
“I think the whole thing is a concern,” Elias said. “I mean, it’s a heart condition. Again, I’m going to be really careful. I don’t want to be the one talking in-depth about the medicine of this.
“We’ve had some bad medical scares here very recently and there was another player in the league that had a condition very similar to this one very recently.”
Hall Shut Down
Left-handed pitcher D.L. Hall was placed on the seven-day injured list at Double-A Bowie with left elbow soreness.
Hall, the club’s No. 4 ranked prospect, underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage. Nonetheless, the Orioles want to be careful and shut him down for a few weeks.
“It wasn’t too serious,” Elias said. “We’re being careful with our pitchers. Had an MRI. The MRI was clean from a structural standpoint. No structural injuries or anything serious to worry about. But there was some tendinitis, some inflammation.
“So, we’ll pull him out of the rotation, let him rest for a couple of weeks. In several weeks, start to build him back up and return to the Bowie rotation in good time.”
Hall, 22, was selected by the Orioles in the first round (No. 21 overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft. He has been dazzling this season, overpowering hitters with his fastball. Hall is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in seven starts (31.2 innings).
Rodriguez Has Successful Home Debut
Right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez made his home debut for Bowie June 15 and threw his fastball harder than 100 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Rodriguez, who is ranked as the 11th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America, was stellar but the Baysox fell short against Akron, losing 3-2 before an announced 4,963. Rodriguez allowed two earned runs and four hits while striking out six in 4.2 innings.
“You know, that wasn’t up to standards for myself,” Rodriguez said. “Little disappointed tonight. Obviously, I could have done a better job and stayed in the game longer. Got into some deep counts with some guys and kind of had a problem finishing guys off there. Definitely not what I had in mind.
“I think they fouled off a lot of pitches. The three or four hits I gave up were hard contact. That is just leaving the ball over the plate a little too much but they battled well.”
The Baysox maintain the best record in the Double-A Northeast at 27-10.
Shorebirds Expand Lead In Low-A East
The Delmarva Shorebirds (24-13) beat Salem, 5-1, on June 17, moving them four games ahead of the Red Sox (21-18) in the Low-A East (North Division) standings. The Lynchburg Hillcats are also four games behind the Shorebirds.
Right-hander Jake Lyons (1-1) earned his first win of the season for Delmarva with 4.2 scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out eight. At one point, Lyons retired 10 Salem batters in a row.
Trevor Kehe went 3-for-4 with a run scored for Shorebirds, who had seven players record at least one hit.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles