The Orioles continued their draft signings Tuesday, announcing a deal with Arkansas outfielder and No. 2 overall pick Heston Kjerstad to bring five of the team’s six 2020 picks under contract.
Kjerstad, who was a dark horse selection at No. 2 overall after many other names were connected to the Orioles at the pick, joins the organization at a time when the immediate future for minor leaguers remains unclear.
In the interim, the minor league staff has provided prospects with individualized work plans and has been holding Zoom calls on mental skills training, nutrition and baseball skills to keep players engaged throughout the shutdown.
Kjerstad will join No. 30 overall pick Jordan Westburg and No. 37 overall pick Hudson Haskin, who signed this weekend, as part of those sessions going forward.
The bonus pool slot for Kjerstad was $7.79 million, which represents much of the team’s overall bonus allotment of $13.9 million — the largest of any team in the draft. Kjerstad signed for $5.2 million, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal, allowing around $2.5 million of that allotted pool to be used on other players.
Westburg and Haskin signed for slot value at $2.37 million and $1.91 million, respectively. The savings from Kjerstad were expected to be passed along to the team’s two high school picks from the fourth round, third baseman Coby Mayo and right-hander Carter Baumler.
Mayo’s reported agreement is worth $1.75 million instead of the recommended slot of $565,600. Baumler’s $1.5 million is well above the slot of $422,300 for his pick.
The under-slot strategy high in the draft is designed to allow teams to sign high school players with strong college commitments who might command higher bonuses in later rounds while still taking advantage of the top-of-the-board talent with early picks.
The slot amount for unsigned third-round pick Anthony Servideo, a shortstop from Mississippi, is $844,200.
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MLB.com first reported Kjerstad’s signing bonus.