Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Player Preview: Heston Kjerstad

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With college bats reportedly a priority for Ben Cherington and company, will the Pittsburgh Pirates look at a power hitting outfielder from Arkansas with pick number seven?

There is a good shot that Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad will be available at pick number seven for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night. Let’s dive in to the slugging left-handed hitting outfielder and take a deeper look at what he brings to the table.

Over the course of three seasons at the University of Arkansas facing very tough SEC talent, Kjerstad really dominated the competition. Hitting to a career .343 batting average with 37 career home runs, the bat was pretty darn good in college.

While he is one of the best hitters in the draft, personally, I have a lot of concerns with Kjerstad. First, with his swing, using a long leg-kick but making up for it with extremely quick hands. I view it as something he may need to tweak a tad bit when he makes the jump to pro ball.

Throughout his entire career Kjerstad struck out 129 times while only walking 54 times, this draws a big question mark for me. Is this something that he will be able to reduce in the future with development or is will it stay with him? Hard to tell but I still like the upside on him.

The 6-foot-3 and 205 pound frame benefits the 21-year-old a lot, and he’s been learning how to generate a lot of power with it. Kjerstad could possibly have the best power in the class outside of consensus number one overall pick Spencer Torkelson. Showing that power off for Arkansas, Kjerstad actually hit two home runs at Minute Maid Park including an absolute blast to deep center field.

Defensively speaking, Kjerstad played all of his outfield innings in right field and will look to stick there for the future. Average defensively, but nothing extremely special, he gets the job done. The right-handed thrower also appeared at first base but only for three games, it’s at least worth noting. Overall i’m not against adding him, because simply put, he would be a really fun prospect to watch develop, over his college career he was only getting better and better until his 2020 season was cut short.

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Taking Kjerstad at seven would give the Pittsburgh Pirates another young outfielder with high upside to add to the existing core. Depending on the board, Kjerstad would be a solid pick at number seven, but not my absolute first choice personally.

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