Heston Kjerstad - remember the name

You can usually tell a lot from fall practice and you can tell that Kjerstad is about to assume a role in Arkansas’ starting lineup. Here is a story from today’s scrimmage in which he went 5-for-5 and hit a home run that looked like Spanberger: http://www.wholehogsports.com/news/2017 … ters-fall/

Here is today’s box score:

Where do you think the young man will start?

Where do you think the young man will start?
[/quote]Let me add a twist to your question; does this kid or Fletcher play CF? Or, is he more of a DH on a day-to-day basis (i.e., how are his fielding skills, speed, arm)?


No one is going to move Fletcher out of center field. I see Kjerstad playing either of the corner outfield positions or being a DH. Maybe he is the answer in left field and Bonfield will DH more. Kjerstad has some infield experience. I’m not sure where he’ll fit, but he’ll fit as long as he hits like he has this fall.

Watch the video (embedded in the story) of my interview with Van Horn. I talked with him about Kjerstad’s defense and the general summation is that it is good. He is not a defensive liability and that is why he is threatening to get in the lineup. There wasn’t a lot hit at him the last two scrimmages, but when there was he did a good job of being in the right position and getting the ball back to the right cutoff man.

There are so many good hitters - and fielders, for that matter - on this team that I don’t think there is going to be an everyday lineup, at least not starting out. There is going to be a lot of mixing and matching to get the best nine to the plate. The good news for Arkansas is that there are options on the bench for just about everything pertaining to situational baseball - left-handers, right-handers, power guys, good runners, defenders, etc. Evan Lee and Bryce Bonnin are both two-way players, which helps when filling out a roster. This is as deep of a team as I can remember.

I watched 2 of the 3 games so far. Kjerstad looks like he will secure a corner outfield spot. He played SS in High School, but we are just so loaded in the infield, I think he starts day 1 in LF. His bat is advanced, and he hits the breaking pitches as well. Very impressed!!!

We are a very physically imposing team. Seems like there are 10 guys that are 6-3 and bigger. We look good getting off the bus

Matt I know its just the fall but do Knight, Campbell, and Murphy look to be conference starters? Who else will figure into conference starters possibilities? Is Keaton McKinney or Cody Scroggins throwing any yet? Who could be the closer? Thanks Matt.

I’ll see Campbell pitch today; looking forward to that. Murphy is out with a sore back and Knight didn’t have a good start the other day, but I think those are the most likely to be opening weekend starters. A lot could change between that time and when SEC play begins a month later. Might Matt Cronin or one of these freshmen make a move?

Scroggins probably is not going to pitch this year but McKinney should. I don’t think he has been cleared to pitch off the mound yet, but I’m told his rehab is going well. McKinney has turned the corner from a physical standpoint; his body looks a lot different than the last time we saw him pitch. I think he has the potential to be pretty good when he is cleared.

The most obvious option at closer is Jake Reindl, whose velocity has jumped a little and who has been a groundball machine this fall. He had a couple of bad outings out of the bullpen, but he was good in relief much more often than he was bad last year. There are some hard throwing freshmen who look raw and Evan Lee also seems like a good choice out of the bullpen.

Having a deep talented bench will keep players fresh and rested especially playing twin bills.
The depth would have helped in the regional last spring.

We’ve been discussing starters for each position. Each time, there are several candidates. Some (of course) are givens (Koch, Fletcher, Biggers). But there are so many choices. Kenley is a defensive standout and has been hitting well, do you put him at third? Who plays first: Lee, Gates, McFarland, Bonfield? The backup catcher position is stronger than I can ever remember: Opitz and Plunkett have both done a good job. (Just a few years ago, I was worried about the backup catchers in fall ball. Neither freshman Shaddy nor freshman Gosser could throw a ball to 2B without bouncing it.)

This is a strong team all the way around.

Kjerstad is a stud. He’s big and strong for a freshman. Scouts who I talked to at one practice (ahead of the series) were talking about his bat speed. He’s good in the field, too. I think he’ll play right field, the tougher of the two corner positions. But he gives you a solid option to back up Fletcher in center. Kjerstad has power, but he hits a lot of line drives to the alleys. You see young hitters square up the ball, but often times it’s at someone. They don’t have control to put it down for a hit in the alley. He does.