You don’t have to look very far for signs that the Orioles farm system remains robust even with recent graduations to the MLB level. The recent MLB Pipeline top 100 prospect update has seven Orioles prospects on it, and two of them have been selected to play in this year’s edition of the All-Star Futures Game, which will be played as part of the All-Star festivities in Seattle on July 8.
The two Orioles prospects heading to the game this year are last year’s #1 overall pick, Jackson Holliday, and 2020’s #2 overall pick, Heston Kjerstad. That’s double the number of Orioles prospects to be on the American League futures roster compared to last year, when Gunnar Henderson was the only guy. He’s gone on to some good things and hopefully will be going on to better ones still.
Holliday is the recently-minted #1 overall prospect in all of baseball in that MLB Pipeline ranking update. He’s been performing like a #1 overall prospect for much of the season, earning a promotion to High-A after batting to a 1.183 OPS over just 14 games with Delmarva, and since that time posting a .303/.446/.591 batting line with the Aberdeen IronBirds. Even with a June swoon where he’s hit only one home run, Holliday is still rocking a .385 OBP for the month.
Being named to the Futures Game roster is the latest positive development for what I’ve been calling the Heston Kjerstad Finally Arrived Tour. The more than two year delay before he could even begin his pro career is now more than a year in the rear view mirror. He has played now at every full-season affiliate in the span of that year, since his performance at Double-A Bowie, where he was assigned to begin the season, was good enough to warrant a promotion: Kjerstad batted .310/.384/.576 in 46 games at the level.
The party has not stopped for Kjerstad since joining Triple-A Norfolk. Through 17 games, he’s hitting .286/.357/.587 there. That includes four home runs, with a total of 15 dingers between both levels this season. That is exciting power for a lefty prospect who will hopefully be able to park baseballs on the flag court or even onto Eutaw Street in his future Orioles career.