Amarillo, TX. Native One Step Away From Major League Baseball
The Randall Raiders baseball team has been on one heck of a run. They qualified for the state tournament recently and will get the chance to represent the Amarillo, TX. area in Austin, TX. as they take on Texarkana Liberty-Eylau in the state semifinals.
It's not just the team itself having a nice little run, one of their former players is having a heck of a season himself in the minor leagues.
Amarillo native, and former Randall Raider, Heston Kjerstad was recently promoted to the AAA Norfolk Tides after posting some eye popping stats in Spring Training and down in AA with the Bowie Baysox.
With this move, Kjerstad is one step away from representing Amarillo in the Major Leagues. He wouldn't be the first player from Amarillo to reach the big show, but Kjerstad has a chance to be one of the most successful players to come out of the area.
This season, he was batting .310 with 11 home runs before getting the call up. He also tore up the stat sheet in Spring Training and made the Baltimore Orioles think long and hard about what to do with him.
Kjerstad was originally drafted directly out of Randall High School in the 36th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. He opted not to sign a contract with them and decided to attend college at the University of Arkansas. That proved to be a very smart move as the Orioles made him the 2nd overall pick of the 2020 MLB Draft.
His path hasn't been the easiest, which has to make this even sweeter. Kjerstad dealt with a case of myocarditis back in 2021 which was slated to be his first professional season. Myocarditis is a inflammation that occurs in the heart muscle, so there was a lot of concern wrapped around him.
He missed the entire 2021 season dealing with the issue, then got back on the field in 2022. He did not disappoint. He started the season in A ball with Delmarva, but obliterated the competition there in and earned a call up to high A ball after just 22 games.
He would play 43 games in high A ball with Aberdeen to a mixed bag of results. Determined not to let that define him, he came out for 2023 Spring Training and completely mashed the ball around the field. Baltimore decided to start him with AA Bowie this season after that showing, and their intuition was spot on.
Now one step from the Major Leagues, every sports fan in Amarillo will be keeping a close eye on the kid to see if he can breakthrough and give Amarillo a reason to be proud.