Kjerstad was expected to go near the top of the draft, but not with the second selection. The O’s obviously liked him quite a bit, but also saw an opportunity to save some bonus pool capacity to draft and sign other talented players in later rounds. The club was able to reapply over $2.5MM of the second overall slot value.
As things stand, the Orioles are known to have deals in place with five of their six selections. Jordan Westburg (30th overall) and Hudson Haskin (39th) secured at-slot bonuses. High schoolers Coby Mayo and Carter Baumler were lured with over-slot promises, though their deals aren’t yet official. That leaves Ole Miss infielder Anthony Servideo, the team’s third-round choice, left without a pact (so far as is publicly known).
Perhaps it’s easy to get caught up in the machinations and overlook Kjerstad’s own promise. While teams obviously see the appeal in spreading draft bonus pool availability over multiple players, they also aren’t generally inclined to spend premium draft choices on sub-premium talent.
All major draft pundits graded Kjerstad as one of the dozen or so top-available talents. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs had the highest ranking, listing him in the seventh slot.
Most agree on the profile here. Kjerstad is seen as a solid right fielder with big potential at the plate. He was drubbing high-end college pitching (.448/.513/.791) when the 2020 season was suspended. There are some concerns over his complicated swing and proclivity to strike out, but obviously the consensus is that Kjerstad will grow into a quality offensive performer at the game’s highest level.