Heston Kjerstad, the Orioles’ top draft pick in 2020, and the second overall selection in the draft is progressing after his bout with mydocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
The 22-year-old outfielder couldn’t participate in last October’s Instructional League in Sarasota, Florida. Nor was he ready for major league spring training.
“He had been working out at the alternate site [at Bowie], everyday physical activity,” Orioles director of development Matt Blood said in a video conference call on Tuesday.
“He will be down in Florida in a week and he’ll continue his progression there. It will be a slow buildup process for him. No need to rush him as he gets back to full health, full baseball condition, and then eventually into games.”
Right-handed pitcher Michael Baumann, who was placed on the 40-man roster for the first time in November, didn’t throw competitively in major league spring training, and is not currently on a roster. He suffered a flexor mass tendon injury last summer at the alternate site.
“He’s still in Florida,” Blood said. “We’re just slow building, being cautious with him, managing some discomfort. Hopefully, he’ll be back by the end of the month.”
Keegan Akin, the left-hander who pitched eight games for the Orioles late last season, has recovered from the cut on the left index finger he sustained in a recent kitchen accident.
“He’ll throw a side tomorrow,” Blood said. “Hopefully, he’s going to make a start for Norfolk on Friday.”
Had Akin not suffered the injury, he could have started for the Orioles on April 24 instead of Wade LeBlanc.
Catcher Nick Ciuffo remains out with a hand injury. Blood hopes he’ll be back in early June.
Carter Baumler, the right-handed pitcher who was the team’s fifth-round draft pick last June is recovering well from Tommy John surgery.
Managing innings: The Orioles sent Bruce Zimmermann down before Monday night’s game, and last month, they did the same with Dean Kremer, in an attempt at managing their innings.
Blood says that there’s no specific numbers for the two top pitching prospects, Bowie’s DL Hall and Aberdeen’s Grayson Rodriguez.
“Every single pitcher, we’re going to be watching carefully and monitoring,” Blood said. “It’s an unprecedented situation. The roster sizes are larger. We will have large numbers of pitchers on each rosters so we will be monitoring it, but we also want these guys to get their work in.”
International signings making progress: Perhaps 30 international players are part of the group at extended spring training, Blood says.
“There will be a significant presence of Dominican players in extended and in the [Gulf Coast League] this year,” he said.
Outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who signed for $475,000 in July 2019, the largest bonus given to an international player by the Orioles that year, is in extended spring training.
Two players acquired late last season, outfielder Mishael Deson and infielder Isaac DeLeon are in Sarasots. Deson was part of the package the Orioles received from Colorado for Mychal Givens, and DeLeon was part of the return from Miami for Richard Bleier.
“We’ve been working on the group that was at spring training, getting as many players and staff vaccinated as possible. We’ll be continuing to do that at the affiliates, where they are now.”