Story by Drew Amman:
High praise continues to roll in for Heston Kjerstad projected to go in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft (whenever the 2020 edition takes place).
Dave Van Horn on Tuesday’s Teleconference when asked about Kjerstad:
“I think he’s probably the best left-handed hitter in the country. When you combine his ability to use the whole field, and then also throw in the power and power to all parts of the field, the development I’ve seen, I don’t know how there can be a better left-handed hitter in the country right now. I would think his Draft stock would be pretty high, I know it is from talking to people, and he showed early how much better he was than he walked in here early spring. He’s going to be a really good Draft, a really good pro player and if he stays healthy and hooked up, which I think he will, he’ll play in the big leagues a long time.”
A junior from Amarillo, Texas, Kjerstad led the Hogs batting .448 with six dingers, five doubles, 20 RBIs while slugging .791. He also ranked second for Arkansas with 19 runs scored.
“There will alway be a question mark on what I could’ve done and that’s probably I’ll always think about. Also a big question mark had to be whether we could three peat making another trip to Omaha,” the right fielder said.
Addressing his projection as a first-round pick?
“I guess from the few people that really know baseball I’ve talked with, that is what they’re saying. We’ll know in a few months if it is where everybody’s talking. I can’t make up a team’s mind so I’ll just try to control what I can control and everything will work out eventually.
Van Horn was also complimentary of Kjerstad’s actions away from the field.
“As far as leadership, Heston probably made one of the biggest jumps from his sophomore year to the fall of his junior year, just the respect of his teammates. The first two he just played, worked hard and maybe let some other guys lead a little bit more and we had older guys. When it was his turn, he did a tremendous job, and I think the players really looked up to Heston because here you see this guy who has had two really good years and now he’s getting ready to start his third and he works harder than anybody on the team. He didn’t just sit back and say hey okay I’m going to go now and get it. He worked hard at all of that. He earned most of his respect with his work ethic and he just keeps getting better. He was good as a freshman, good as a sophomore, but I’m telling you, this year, he’s better, and I think you kinda saw it. If we had played sixty plus games which we would’ve, you would’ve seen him do some special things on the field,” Van Horn notes.
SEC Freshman of the Year in 2018, All-SEC Second Team in ’18 and ’19, Kjerstad paced Arkansas with 30 hits in sixteen games this season.
The Mariners drafted Kjerstad in the 36th round out of high school in 2017.