Heston Kjerstad had to exercise great patience early in his career.

The second pick in the 2020 draft, Kjerstad didn’t take his first minor league at-bat until 2022, sitting out the first two years of his professional career with myocarditis, inflammation of a heart muscle, and later a hamstring injury.

He’s been a rapid riser since his return, jumping from A ball all the way to Triple-A in the past two seasons. And on Thursday he’ll head to Baltimore to join the Orioles, two sources told The Baltimore Banner. They asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move publicly.

It’s not known yet if he’ll be activated, but it will be his major league debut when he takes the field. The Orioles are bringing him in as insurance for Ryan Mountcastle, who was injured during Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals. Mountcastle is day to day with left shoulder discomfort and will have imaging done Thursday.

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If the Orioles activate Kjerstad, they will need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster.

Kjerstad, a corner outfielder for most of his career, has recently started playing first base, where he might be needed as a replacement for Mountcastle. He’s played 38 games there this year between Double-A and Triple-A. He could slot in at first or be used in left field, right field or as the designated hitter with Ryan O’Hearn or Ramon Urías at first. Of the two, O’Hearn has more experience on that corner — Urías has played only 11 major league games there.

Kjerstad’s best attribute is his powerful left-handed bat. He hit .298 with 10 home runs and an .886 OPS in 76 games with Norfolk.

The Orioles need a boost like that now more than ever. Their offense has gone dry, the team getting shut out by the Cardinals 1-0 on Wednesday night for its second straight loss. The Orioles had just three hits.

Kjerstad, if activated, will be thrown right into a lineup trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and attempting to win the division for the first time since 2014. The Orioles, only two games ahead of the Rays now, will begin a four-game series against Tampa Bay on Thursday in a matchup that could play a crucial part in deciding who wins the American League East.


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