Arkansas will play its Fall Baseball Classic on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Baum-Walker Stadium with the knowledge that one of its past stars has made it to The Show.

The Baltimore Orioles  called up former Razorback Hjeston Kerstad on Thursday as they begin an important four-game Major League Baseball series with American League Eastern division rival and visiting Tampa Bay.

The left-handed Kjerstad is not listed in the starting line up in the series opener, which begins at 6:15 CST and is being televised nationally by Fox.

The Orioles, who have the best record in the American League at 91-43 and a two-game lead over the Rays, are bringing Kjerstad up after first baseman Ryan Mountcastle suffered a shoulder injury in St. Louis 1-0 win over Baltimore on Wednesday night.

The Orioles lead the Rays 6-3 in the nine games the two teams have played this season with one more win clinching the tiebreaker in the first season MLB is not using a tiebreaker game to decide the MLB’s division championship.

Kjerstad was the second pick overall of the 2020 draft after Detroit took first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the number one selection.

He is considered the 24th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, the 44th-best prospect by Baseball America, 49th by Kiley McDaniel of ESPN  56th by Keith Law of The Athletic.

Kjerstad has battled maladies that kept him from ascending to the major leagues, missing entire 2021 season with myocarditis and splitting time in an abbreviated 2022 between Class A and high A.

He has played 46 AA games for  AA and 76 AAA ones this season and combined to hit .303 with 21 homers,  55 RBIs and 5 stolen bases while scoring 87 runs with 29 doubles and 8 triples.

He has played first base and both left and right field and Kjestad will join Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and Colton Cowser as those who have made their MLB debut for the youthful Orioles in 2022 or 2023.

Kjerstad, a former Amarillo (Texas) Randall prep standout,  batted .477 with 32 RBI his junior year when he was named District 3-5A Player of the Year and made the All-State team and repeated both of those honors as a senior.

He was originally drafted by Seattle in the 36th round of the 2017 MLB draft, but chose to attend Arkansas instead.

Kjerstad batted .343 in his three-year Arkansas career while hitting 37 home runs and driving in 137 runs.

He hit . 332 with with 14 homers and had 58 RBI whole being named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year in 2018 and .327 as a sophomore with 17 blasts and 51 runs driven in.

Kjerstad was named a preseason first-team All-Anerican before this  junior and final season, which  lasted just 16 games as covid came along after he had already hit .448 and  had 6 home runs and 20 RBIs.

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Concession stands will be closed for the Fall Baseball Classic, but outside food and drinks are allowed. Non-food items must be in a clear bag. 

Coolers are allowed in the Hog Pen. No coolers will be permitted in the main seating bowl.

Macke’s Bases Loaded Landing, which is located just beyond the right field foul pole and connected to the J.B. & Johnelle Hunt Family Baseball Development Center, will not be open to the public.

Ballpark promotions will include:

  • Bark in the Park (Dogs allowed in Hog Pen only; must be on a leash)
  • 2024 schedule poster for all fans
  • Razorback Football vs. BYU ticket giveaway
  • Inning-by-inning raffles