Kjerstad to report to O's alt site (source)

April 20th, 2021

After almost a year, the Orioles are about to get their hands on their top 2020 Draft pick.

MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis reported Tuesday that has been medically cleared and will report to the Orioles’ alternate training site in Bowie, Md., citing a source. Kjerstad has not played professionally since the Orioles secured him with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2020 Draft due to myocarditis, a viral infection that causes inflammation of the heart muscle. Kjerstad will require a “months-long buildup” before returning to game action due to the condition, per Callis.

The Orioles have not confirmed the move.

That process will begin in Bowie, where the Orioles are hosting their alternate site for the second consecutive year, at least until the Double-A Baysox season begins in early May. Kjerstad is likely to continue his rehab in Florida after that; the O’s are currently conducting Minor League Spring Training at their Sarasota and Twin Lakes facilities. Kjerstad is ranked the No. 60 prospect in baseball and the O’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

It is unclear when Kjerstad will be cleared to officially begin his Minor League career, or what level he will be assigned to. In 2019, the Orioles placed No.1 overall pick Adley Rutschman in the Gulf Coast League to start, before they quickly promoted him to Low A Aberdeen. He finished the year at Class A Delmarva, spent 2020 at the alternate site and is expected to begin 2021 with Double-A Bowie.

Kjerstad never made it to the alternate site last summer, or to O’s Spring Training this spring, where he was invited and expected as a camp reserve. That plan changed in early March, when Baltimore's general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias said Kjerstad would instead report straight to the alternate site when it opened at the end of the month. Elias said Kjerstad had not experienced a setback; even so, he wasn’t medically cleared to report for another three weeks. Kjerstad has not spoken publicly since last June’s Draft.

“Everything is continuing to trend very well with him and look very good,” Elias said on March 10. “It’s going to be something where he’s going to need a little bit more time after this layoff to go through rehab protocol [and] to return to game shape. But we’re very hopeful that he will be able to do that this season.”