Orioles minor league report: Heston Kjerstad off to hot start, Rylan Bannon impressing with bat

The fact that Heston Kjerstad is playing at all is noteworthy, given the breadth of injuries that have set back his development. His early production, then, is only more encouraging.

The Orioles’ first-round pick from the 2020 draft made his affiliate debut earlier this month for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds, taking the field for competitive baseball for the first time in two years. Kjerstad has navigated several health problems, including a heart condition. A hamstring strain suffered early in spring training pushed back his debut more.

But now that the former Arkansas star is on the field, success is quickly following.

Each week, The Baltimore Sun will break down five of the top performers in the Orioles’ prospect ranks and hand out some superlatives for those who didn’t make that cut. And after Kjerstad’s fast start to the season, he leads this week’s report.

1. Low-A Delmarva outfielder Heston Kjerstad

Kjerstad has played only seven games, but that small sample size has been impressive. The outfielder marked his debut with an opposite-field single and an RBI, then had multiple hits in three of his next six outings. Across five games last week, Kjerstad hit .421 with a .981 OPS, doubling twice and walking twice while driving home six runners. To see him playing is one thing. To see him playing well is another altogether.

2. Triple-A Norfolk infielder Rylan Bannon

After the Orioles optioned right-hander Mike Baumann to Triple-A on Monday to reduce the major league roster to the new maximum of 13 pitchers, another position player will be on his way to Baltimore for Tuesday night’s matchup with the Washington Nationals. Bannon, who made his big league debut in St. Louis earlier this season, is a likely option to fill that role, particularly while infielder Ramón Urías remains out with an oblique injury.

Bannon hit three homers in a six-game span last week, leaving him with an OPS of 1.423 in that stretch. He was part of an impressive Norfolk infield that also included Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, who were moved up from Double-A Bowie earlier this month. Westburg had four extra-base hits last week and Henderson worked five walks around his homer and three doubles.

3. Double-A Bowie first baseman Andrew Daschbach

Daschbach is hitting just .199 in 52 games, but the 24-year-old turned things around at the plate last week, part of a seven-game hitting streak. An 11th-round selection in the 2019 draft out of Stanford, he hit .350 with a 1.080 OPS last week, adding a home run and seven RBIs to the mix.

4. Double-A Bowie right-hander Chris Vallimont

Vallimont is just 25, but he’s bounced around since he was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft by the Miami Marlins. Since then, he was included in a trade that sent him to the Minnesota Twins before the Orioles claimed him off waivers in May. His start to the season hasn’t always been steady, but his two starts last week were impressive; in the latter, he threw a combined 10 shutout innings with 10 …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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