2. Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, RF, Arkansas
Who is Kjerstad? Kjerstad might have the best raw power of any left-handed hitter in the draft, has performed well at Arkansas and led Team USA with a .395 average last summer. He’s strictly a corner outfielder, and his swing has a lot of moving parts, including a pause with a big leg kick. The strikeouts are a concern — he had a poor 65/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a sophomore — but he was off to a great start in nonconference play in 2020, hitting .448/.513/.791 with six home runs in 16 games.
Why the Orioles took him here: Kjerstad has elite power and was a top-10 prospect in this draft, but this is also very much about draft strategy. Kjerstad is much more likely to take an under-slot deal that will help the O’s target another elite player with the No. 30 pick than higher-ranked prospects Austin Martin or Asa Lacy would. Best case for Baltimore is getting an outfielder in Kjerstad who might fit as a designated hitter and who annually lands on MLB home run leaderboards while strengthening the rest of its system later in the draft. — Mullen
30. Baltimore Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Who is Westburg? Part of the Bulldogs’ outstanding double-play combination, Westburg is a 6-foot-3 shortstop with bigger tools than second baseman Justin Foscue — but less polish, especially at the plate, where he fanned 69 times in 321 plate appearances in 2019. He’s a plus runner with plus raw power, although he’s still learning to reach it in games. His arm strength is enough for shortstop, although he could end up at third base or second base.
Why the Orioles took him here: When the Orioles took Kjerstad with the second pick as a likely under-slot selection, the feeling was they might go instead with an over-slot high school selection here. Instead, they went with the talented, high-upside Westburg, whose tools grade higher than his performance. As ESPN analyst Chris Burke pointed out, there will be a lot of pressure on the Orioles’ player development system to turn with Kjerstad and Westburg into productive hitters. — Schoenfield
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