In today’s entry to the 2020 Major League Baseball Scouting Report series (you can check out all of the reports in the series right here.)we’re going to look at one of the hitters with some of the best raw power in the entire draft, Heston Kjerstad. He’s currently rated as the #15 prospect on Baseball America’s draft list, #7 on the Fangraphs list, and #10 on the MLB Pipeline list.
The 2018 Season
After being selected by Seattle in 2017 in the 36th round, Heston Kjerstad chose to pass on signing with the Mariners and headed off to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He started from day one for Arkansas, and his freshman season showed off plenty of pop as he had 16 doubles and 14 home runs while hitting .332/.419/.553 on the season. That did come with some strikeouts, though, as he fanned 55 times with 26 walks in 313 plate appearances.
The 2019 Season
A strong freshman season was followed up with a very similar sophomore one. In 65 games for the Razorbacks last season he hit .327/.400/.575 with 13 doubles, a triple, and 17 home runs. In his 300 plate appearances he had 21 walks and 65 strikeouts, seeing both his walk and strikeout rates trend in the wrong direction. The power played, though.
The 2020 Season
Things got out to a very good start for Heston Kjerstad in 2020 during his non-conference play before the start of the SEC season that never really came. In his 16 games he hit .448/.513/.791 with 5 doubles, 6 home runs, 7 walks, and 9 strikeouts. Like everyone else, his season came to an early end in early March.
Heston Kjerstad College Stats
Heston Kjerstad Video
Heston Kjerstad Scouting Report
Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
A corner outfielder is expected to have some power in his bat, and that’s just what Heston Kjerstad brings to the table. His raw power grades out as plus and it’s the best of all of his tools. He’s been able to use it to all fields in college, and he’s shown the ability to hit for power against high end pitching. But with that power has come plenty of strikeouts for a high profile college hitter, too. That leaves some concerns about just how much average he’ll hit for in the future – though the feeling is that the power will be enough to carry a lower average that his slightly below-average hit tool could return.
Defensively he’s seen time at first base and the corner outfield spots, but the corner outfield spots both seem like reasonable options. His arm will play just fine in right field, though it won’t stand out. From a range perspective he’s got enough speed to remain in the outfield.
Where the concern could be
How much will Heston Kjerstad hit? Beyond the strikeout-to-walk ratio numbers being a little bit concerning for a potential 1st round pick, there are also some concerns about his swing mechanics. The pieces are there – his bat is quick, he’s strong and can use the entire field – but to get the most from his bat there may need to be plenty of work done along the way to properly take advantage of all of those things.