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Kjerstad introduced as Orioles begin returning to Baltimore

O's player intake screening underway at Camden Yards
Posted at 3:41 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 17:52:48-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The first step to getting back on the field is underway for the Orioles.

"We’ve launched the intake," said O's General Manager Mike Elias. "It’s underway and we’re moving along right now and players are undergoing intake."

The COVID-19 health screening intake is being held outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It began Wednesday. The first on-field workouts for the Birds are set for Friday.

Elias was speaking from his home during a virtual press conference to introduce 2020 No. 2 overall draft pick Heston Kjerstad.

"What we saw that led us to select Heston with this pick was a rare combination of power and the ability to hit for average and what we feel is a swing and an approach that will convert that production to the professional game and hopefully the major leagues," said Elias.

"Pumped to be a part of the Orioles organization," said Kjerstad. "I think it’s a great organization. Honestly, it’s a great fit for me."

Kjerstad signed his first contract on Tuesday, a minor league deal which includes a $5.2 million signing bonus. The 21-year-old outfielder out of the University of Arkansas hit .448 with five doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI in 16 games during his junior season, which was shortened due to the pandemic.

He’s the latest addition to the rebuilding O’s’ cupboard.

"They definitely have a lot of talent coming up in their minor league system and I think it’s going to be a great place for me to be able to develop and reach my full potential," he said.

That minor league system won’t foster any development this summer. Minor league seasons were canceled on Tuesday. There's no pro destination for Kjerstad in 2020.

"It’s definitely tough not being able to go out and play games because me, personally, I think that’s the best way to improve as a player - is to be playing every day and facing high level competition," said Kjerstad.

It does not sound like Kjerstad will be part of the Orioles’ 60-player pool this year. Elias cited risks to roster flexibility if he were to throw the young outfielder into that mix.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook