O’s News: Orioles promote top prospects Heston Kjerstad, Easton Lucas to Triple-A Norfolk

O’s News: Orioles promote top prospects Heston Kjerstad, Easton Lucas to Triple-A Norfolk

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The Baltimore Orioles have promoted top prospects Heston Kjerstad and Easton Lucas from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk.

According to MLB Pipeline, Kjerstad is ranked #50 on their MLB Top 100 prospect list and #4 in the Orioles Top 30. Kjerstad is also ranked #91 according to Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, and entered the season ranked #12 in Baltimore’s organization.

Kjerstad, 24, was drafted by the Orioles second overall in the 2020 MLB Draft out of the University of Arkansas. In 46 games played with Bowie in 2023, Kjerstad hit .310 (57-for-184) with 30 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 23 RBI, 15 walks and three stolen bases while slashing .383/.576/.959.

Kjerstad leaves Bowie leading the Eastern League leaders in slugging percentage, while also ranking in triples (T-2nd), home runs (T-3rd), OPS (T-3rd), hits (T-3rd), extra-base hits (T-3rd, 24), batting average (4th) and hit-by-pitches (T-6th, 7).

In 2022, Kjerstad was named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star and earned Most Valuable Player of the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Lucas, 26, was taken by the Miami Marlins in the 14th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Pepperdine. The Orioles acquired him on Dec. 2, 2019, in a trade with Miami for Jonathan Villar. The southpaw has made 11 relief appearances for Bowie, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA (3 ER, 17.0 IP). He struck out 24 batters while walking four, has a 0.77 WHIP and has allowed a .155 opponent’s average (9-for-58).

Among the 71 Eastern League pitchers with at least 17.0 innings pitched in relief, Lucas ranked in WHIP (1st), strikeouts to walks ratio (1st, 6.00), walks per 9.0 IP (2nd, 2.12), ERA (4th), strikeouts per 9.0 IP (4th, 12.71), and opponent’s average (8th). He leaves Bowie with an 8.2 scoreless innings streak over five games since May 12.

With the addition of Kjerstad (#50), the Tides have six current Top 100 prospects (MLB Pipeline): Colton Cowser (#29), Jordan Westburg (#49), DL Hall (#79), Joey Ortiz (#80) and Connor Norby (#85).

Along with the call-ups of Kjerstad and Lucas, Hudson Haskin will return to Norfolk from Bowie. Haskin is currently ranked #13 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Orioles prospects list.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP.