The MLB Draft is a few short weeks away. Let’s take a peek at one of the players sure to be on the Cincinnati Reds radar; outfielder Heston Kjerstad.
The Cincinnati Reds have had a run on first-round selections out of the Southeastern Conference in recent years. Both Nick Senzel (University of Tennessee) and Jonathan India (University of Florida) were taken by the Reds in the first round over the past few years. Will Heston Kjerstad be the latest SEC player to be taken in the first round by Cincinnati?
I know a lot of fans will be bemoan the idea of taking an outfielder with the No. 12 overall pick. After all, don’t the Reds have enough outfielders on the roster? While that may be true, never forget that the MLB Draft is about drafting for the future, not for the present. Typically prospects take at least three seasons in the minors before making it to the big leagues.
Besides, Kjerstad, ranked No. 10 among draft eligible players according to MLB.com, brings a ton of power from the left side. The bright-eyed 21-year-old from Amarillo, Texas has played the past three seasons for the University of Arkansas, helping lead the Razorbacks to back-to-back College World Series appearances.
In the abbreviated 2020 season, Kjerstad wreaked havoc on opposing pitchers to the tune of .448/.513/.791 with five doubles and six home runs in just 16 games. Last season, Kjerstad put up a .975 OPS with 17 home runs to lead the Razorbacks.
Fellow Arkansas teammate Casey Martin, a shortstop for the Razorbacks, put up solid numbers as well, but not in the realm of Kjerstad. Martin may be the better athlete, but Kjerstad’s power separates him from his teammate, who ranks No. 30 among draft-eligible prospects according to MLB.com.
After trading away top outfield prospect Taylor Trammell last season, Michael Siani ranks as the top outfield prospect in the Reds farm system according to MLB Pipeline. While Siani’s speed and glove set him apart from other top outfield prospects in Cincinnati’s system, the Reds lack a top outfield prospect with the power of Heston Kjerstad.
According to MLB.com, Kjerstad’s power ranking, on the scouting scale of 20-80, comes in at 60. Cincinnati’s second-round pick from 2019, Rece Hinds, brings a similar profile in terms of power, but he’s destined for a role in the infield. If you’re looking for that type of power from an outfield prospect, you won’t find it among the top players in the Reds farm system.
Heston Kjerstad’s left-handed power and above-average arm make him a perfect fit for right field. With little to brag about in Cincinnati beyond Nick Castellanos, who can opt out following either the 2020 or 2021 seasons, Kjerstad would be a solid addition to the Cincinnati Reds if he’s available when they select in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft.