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Orioles minor league recap 6/11: Heston Kjerstad makes his long-awaited debut

The Orioles’ #2 pick in the 2020 draft finally took the field for the first time as a professional, contributing a hit and an RBI for Delmarva.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft
Heston Kjerstad on draft day 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago.
Photo by MLB Photos via Getty Images

Triple-A: Nashville Sounds (Brewers) 7, Norfolk Tides 0

It was DL Hall day for the Tides, as the Orioles’ flamethrowing lefty prospect made his seventh start in Triple-A. As in all of his previous outings, he struck out a whole bunch of guys but also walked a few. In this case he racked up eight Ks — one shy of the season high he set in his previous start — but walked three, his seventh consecutive outing with at least two free passes. Hall threw 52 strikes and 30 balls.

The Sounds jumped Hall for three runs in the first two innings, but two were unearned thanks to a pair of passed balls by erstwhile O’s backup catcher Anthony Bemboom. On offense, GUNNAR HENDERSON was merely Gunnar Henderson, taking an 0-for-3, though he did draw a walk. Jordan Westburg continued his hot start at the Triple-A level, collecting a hit and a walk, and has a 1.455 OPS through his first three games for Norfolk. Kyle Stowers doubled for the Tides’ only extra-base hit. The club went 1-for-9 with men in scoring position and stranded 10 runners on base.

Box score

Double-A: Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 10, Bowie Baysox 1

Ouch. Much like the Orioles last night, the Baysox played one of those games that you just want to forget on all sides of the ball. The offense was particularly bleak, mustering only two hits all night. One of those hits, at least, was a Cristopher Cespedes solo home run, which came when the Baysox were already down 7-0. Hooray? Among notable prospects, Cesar Prieto, Joey Ortiz, and Adam Hall each went 0-for-4.

Starting pitcher Antonio Velez wasn’t terrible, working five innings and giving up three runs, with one walk and six strikeouts. He fell to 1-7 with the loss, though. Relievers Clayton McGinness and Easton Lucas combined to give up seven runs, and McGinness also plunked three batters, which nearly led to a bench-clearing brawl.

Box score

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 4, Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) 3

All the IronBirds do is win, win, win, no matter what. Their latest victory improves them to a stupendous 38-16 for the season. And they got this one without major contributions from their most high-profile prospects, as Connor Norby and Coby Mayo went 0-for-7 and Colton Cowser had the night off. Cleanup hitter TT Bowens tripled and doubled, and Davis Tavarez and Erison Placencia each homered. Tavarez was the only IronBirds hitter not to strike out; the lineup whiffed 13 times and walked just twice.

Justin Armbruester, last year’s 12th round draft pick, continued his strong season for Aberdeen. In five innings, he held Brooklyn to two runs and struck out seven. In 11 starts, he has a 3.62 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Box score

Low-A: Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Astros) 7, Delmarva Shorebirds 1

We have a Heston Kjerstad sighting, y’all! Nearly two full years after the Orioles made Kjerstad the #2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, and after a long bout with myocarditis and then a hamstring strain, the 23-year-old outfielder finally made his professional debut.

And it wasn’t too shabby! In his first at-bat, Kjerstad drove in what turned out to be Delmarva’s only run, chopping a groundout to score the speedy Luis Valdez from third. And in the sixth inning, Kjerstad picked up a memorable first.

It’s been a long time coming, and it’s awesome to see Kjerstad on the field at last. Here’s to continued health and a quick rise through the Orioles’ farm system for the former University of Arkansas slugger.

Box score

Saturday’s scheduled games:

  • Norfolk: at Nashville, 8:05 PM. Starter: Cody Sedlock (2-1, 5.56)
  • Bowie: at Harrisburg, 6:00 PM. Starter: Drew Rom (2-1, 4.15)
  • Aberdeen: at Brooklyn, 6:00 PM. Starter: Connor Gillispie (3-1, 3.07)
  • Delmarva: vs. Fayetteville, 7:05 PM. Starter: Shane Davis (1-5, 4.02)