Alex Kielar | June 7th, 2020
The Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin on June 10th at 7 pm ET. We continue our MLB Draft profiles with outfielder Heston Kjerstad out of Arkansas who is projected to be a top 10-15 pick.
Make sure to check out our other MLB Draft profiles here.
Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Weight: 205 lbs
2018 Stats: 69 G, .332/.419/.553, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 65 R, 26 BB, 55 SO, 3 SB
2019 Stats: 65 G, .327/.400/.575, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 53 R, 21 BB, 65 SO, 5 SB
2020 Stats (Prior to cancellation): 16 G, .448/.513/.791, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 19 R, 7 BB, 9 SO, 1 SB
Heston Kjerstad was born on February 12, 1999, in Amarillo, Texas. He started to gain professional attention in his senior season at Randall High School but he felt he was not ready for a pro career and decided to commit to Arkansas. Despite his commitment, the Seattle Mariners decided to use a pick on him in the 36th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. But he was set on going to college and honored his commitment, which worked out for the last three years. His freshman year 14 homers broke the Arkansas freshman record in 2018 and he led the Razorbacks along with fellow top prospect Casey Martin to back-to-back College World Series appearances his first two years.
Kjerstad has some of the best pure pop in this draft class and is really just behind certain first overall pick Spencer Torkelson in that regard. Since Torkelson is a righty, Kjerstad has the best left-handed power in this group. He is so strong, he can literally flick the ball to the opposite field and it will go out. An example of that can be seen at the one minute mark in the video above. He doesn’t just hit for power either, as he can hit the ball hard to all fields with strong bat speed and quick hands.
The former Razorback was on a tear to start this season before it was canceled, as he had a hit in all 16 of Arkansas’ games, including six home runs. His swing is complicated as he has a big hand circle to wind up to swing. He needs to have perfect timing to make it work, but he hasn’t had any problems with it his whole playing career. With his strength, Kjerstad is a good fit for a corner outfield spot and he has enough speed to track balls down.
While he has a lot of power and solid hitting ability, Kjerstad is an aggressive hitter who will strike out a lot. This is consistent with a lot of the big-time power hitters in today’s game, so he won’t lose on much there as long as he doesn’t get in his head too much when he gets into a slump. The massive pop he has is a solid tradeoff for more strikeouts. He has ok speed and is below-average at getting out of the box, but can turn it on a little more once he gets himself going. He won’t be a threat to steal, but he can play a capable right field with average enough speed.
Jorge Soler is a player I see very close to Kjerstad. They have similar frames, as Soler is just two inches taller and also has massive power. Soler hit 40 homers last season. He is also not very fast and played a majority of his games at DH last season. Kjerstad has better speed and is more likely to stick in the outfield for his career.
Draft Projection: Round 1 Pick 8, San Diego Padres
If prep outfielder Zac Veen is still available for the Padres, I believe they will go that route. But I don’t think Veen will last that long and in my unofficial mock draft, I have him going to the Royals at fourth overall. That leaves the Padres with their pick at college outfielders who should still be available with Kjerstad and Garrett Mitchell from UCLA. I think the Padres will value Kjerstad’s impressive power and proven skills over Mitchell who has five-tool potential but is not as proven with injury concerns.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images