Up until now I’ve been saying this guy or that guy can be the top prospect for 2024 fantasy baseball. Welp, don’t think that’s the case here. Oh, I could be wrong. That’s happened before to me (once). When he was called up, I said, “Was much more excited about Kjerstad before this call up. When I thought he was the capital of Aruba? No, not that far back. Back when I thought the O’s might play him and he had time to actually play. Not sure why the O’s took so long to call him up, but it’s deflated my enthusiasm. He looks like he could have some power, and might hit .250 with little speed.” And that’s me quoting me! That doesn’t even sound like a profile that’s worth going over in a full post, huh? Well, the thing is, it was the 2nd week in September, and a guy like, say, Matt Olson isn’t that interesting if he were just called up. I don’t just randomly bring up Matt Olson, wait until you see Kjerstad’s power. It’ll be gorgeous in the clip after the: So, what can we expect from Heston Kjerstad for 2024 fantasy baseball?
Here’s Heston Kjerstad is his first major league at-bat:
HESTON KJERSTAD’S FIRST MLB HIT IS A HOMER! pic.twitter.com/2MsSCw5WG8
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 16, 2023
He was drafted 2nd overall by the Orioles in 2020, which might’ve been an overreach, but I think it hints to what the Orioles think of him. Or, at least, thought of him back then. He did take a few years to get where he was an option to be called up, because he was battling health issues for a year, and missed 2021. Now that he’s back and hitting for power again, we’re back to being interested. Have some real concerns about his propensity to strike out, at least upon arrival at a new level. He had a 30.3% strikeout rate in the majors last year. Sure, in only 13 games, and 30 ABs, but I wouldn’t have mentioned it if it didn’t seem characteristic of potential future issues.
Is there a chance Heston Kjerstad has a starting job? That’s really the only reason to be excited for him in redraft leagues. While the Ryan O’Hearn thing played out about as well as the O’s could’ve wanted it to last year, he doesn’t seem to be any reasonably minded person’s answer to start at 1st base again. Though, the Orioles aren’t always reasonably minded. Take: Whatever was going on with Aaron Hicks hitting fifth last year. The O’s should have room for Heston Kjerstad. Figure Mountcastle and him platoon, at worst. Oops, that sounds bad. I’d trade Mountcastle, but I don’t know if the O’s will.
There are guys littered along the KBO highway for prospects drafted in the top five in the MLB draft who never pan out. Not saying that will be Kjerstad, but 30+ homer power with a .220 average becomes 50-homer power in Korea while hitting .250 real fast. So, 30+ homer power, likely won’t hit vs. lefties and might strike out vs. righties. Hmm, beginning to see what September Grey saw in him, and why I don’t think he’ll be the top rookie in 2024. He seems like an AL-Only draft pick for now, who needs to show he can hit and play every day. For 2024 fantasy, I’ll give Heston Kjerstad projections of 43/14/54/.228/1 in 377 ABs.