Minor league ratings on Kjerstad, Florida campers and more
Once he finally stepped onto the court last season in June, O outfield prospect Heston Kjerstad ripped it all up at Single-A Delmarva, batting .463 in 22 games. He didn’t produce similar numbers when he moved to High-A Aberdeen — yes, that would have been tough to do — but had another great run in the Arizona Fall League.
Kjerstad won the Joe Black MVP Award in the AFL, putting him in the same company as previous winners such as Nolan Arenado (2011), Kris Bryant (2013) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (2017). And Kjerstad’s strong performance in the AFL could mean he will start the 2023 season with Double-A Bowie and not return to Aberdeen.
“I would say that would be a smart guess,” O’s director of player development Matt Blood recently said of Kjerstad’s build-up to start next season.
In 43 games with the IronBirds in the regular season, he batted .233/.312/.362 with a .674 OPS, but his bat got heated in the final games of the season, and it carried over into the South Atlantic League. playoffs and in AFL play.
In 22 games at Arizona, Kjerstad, second overall to the Orioles in the 2020 MLB Draft, hit .357/.385/.622 with 1.007 OPS, nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 17 RBIs. He led the AFL in hits (35), doubles, extra hits and total bases (61). He finished tied for third in home runs and RBIs, and was sixth in OPS.
“I just love that once he was healthy he played all season and went to Arizona and hit the ball hard,” Blood said. “A lot of extra hits. I’m just happy for him that he’s moving in the right direction and doing some exciting things for his future. Get ready for next year.”
Camping in Florida: The Orioles just completed the third of what they call Florida Complex League camps for players at their spring training facility in Sarasota, Florida. There will be other camps later. These camps, the last of which ends Nov. 17, don’t use the traditional instructional league model, but focus more on weight room training and skill development.
The last camp was made up of all the pitchers with this group present:
LHP Jared Beck
RHP Bradley Brehmer
RHP Trace Gloss
RHP Moises Chace
HRP Daniel Federman
RHP Harif Frias
RHP Chayce McDermott
HRP Trey Nordmann
RHP Juan Nuñez
RHP Alex Pham
RHP Jean Pinto
LHP Jose Ramirez
RHP Eris Rodriguez
RHP Juan Rojas
RHP Reese Sharp
RHP Peter Van Loon
RHP Cameron Weston
“It was a chance for our pitching coaches to do some very deliberate work with some specific players in terms of their developmental goals as they started their off-season training,” Blood said.
This can include a wide variety of aspects for pitchers – from improving spin rates and deliveries, to pitch shape and design and a better understanding of what their pitch arsenal should really look like. .
“A lot of different areas, but it really works on movement quality and areas of refinement that they need to improve on and also gives them clarity on how they should attack those things for the rest of the winter,” said he declared.
It’s a lot different than it was back when teams could check their players to get through their winter. It’s much more targeted.
“A lot of that comes from either the motion capture report or their TrackMan data,” Blood said.
Motion capture reports can be generated at the Orioles’ new pitching lab in Bel Air, Maryland, among other places. A kind of computer generation of body movements. It can create a full biomechanical report on how throwers move, what areas they need to focus on, how to make deliveries more efficient, and can even show areas producing red flags that could lead to future injury.
Asche still involved in the farm: The Orioles recently announced the addition of Cody Asche to their Big League team as an offensive strategy coach. And while Asche’s job now takes him to the major league level, that doesn’t mean he’s done with some minor league hitters. Asche could still check in with some farm hitters next year to provide advice, but not be physically there with them like he was last year.
Asche joined the Baltimore organization in 2022 as an upper-level hitting coordinator on the farm. He began his professional coaching career in 2021 as a hitting coach for the Clearwater Threshers, the Single-A affiliate of the Phillies. He played five seasons with the Phillies (2013-16) and the White Sox (2017).
“It’s not like we lost the person, we just kind of reassigned it,” Blood said. “He’s always going to communicate and engage with the minor league team. Just probably not as physically present. We’re very invested in those players, so he’ll always be an influence that way.”