Orioles outfield prospect Heston Kjerstad, who was the second pick in last year’s MLB draft, missed the team’s offseason instructional league after what general manager Mike Elias called “an episode of myocarditis” on Friday, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko.
At the time, the team cited a “non-baseball medical issue” as the reason for Kjerstad’s absence, per Joe Trezza of MLB.com. Kjrestad is expected to arrive to camp later in spring training.
Myocarditis is an inflammation in of the heart muscle that has been linked to some cases of COVID-19, though there is no indication that Kjerstad has ever tested positive for the virus.
“He’s doing really well,” Elias said on a Zoom conference call with the media. “We’re going to have him at the camp, but we’re still emerging from the timeline of that. It’s a bit of a lengthy recovery timeline. There are also risk factors associated with the ongoing pandemic that we’ve had to be very mindful and very careful about. So he won’t be there immediately.”
The condition drew headlines in MLB circles last year when Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who tested positive for COVID-19, missed the entire season while dealing with myocarditis. Rodriguez has since returned to baseball activities and is expected to be ready for the upcoming season.
Kjerstad, 22, hit .343/.421/.590 during his collegiate career at Arkansas, with 37 home runs in 150 games. He was the SEC’s Freshman of the Year in 2018, and helped lead the team to the College World Series final that year. He received a $5.2 million signing bonus after getting drafted.
Like the rest of the 2020 draftees, Kjerstad has yet to make his professional debut, with the minor league season canceled last year. He is included on the Orioles’ list of camp reserves.