The Orioles swapped a pair of young outfielders Monday when they promoted Kyle Stowers and optioned Heston Kjerstad to Triple-A Norfolk, the team announced.

In addition, Baltimore reinstated outfielder Austin Hays from the injured list and designated outfielder Ryan McKenna for assignment. To round out a flurry of roster activity, the Orioles also claimed right-hander Corbin Martin off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk; Martin was a second-round pick of the Houston Astros when Orioles general manager Mike Elias worked for the club.

The round of roster moves began with Stowers, who got off to a strong campaign at Triple-A Norfolk, slugging 11 homers in 36 games. He is hitting .240 with an .856 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for the Tides. He was a standout in spring training, too: the 26-year-old hit .256 with an 1.011 OPS.

Kjerstad got off to a similarly robust start in Norfolk, and he was called up at the end of April to replace the injured Austin Hays. But Kjerstad received limited opportunities and recorded two hits in his 17 plate appearances across seven games. Prior to his promotion, Kjerstad was hitting .349 with a 1.176 OPS for the Tides.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Just the way our outfield configuration is right now, we feel like it was important for him to go play every day, get every day at-bats,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think this was a good experience for him to get up here for a couple weeks, get a couple starts, some pinch-hit opportunities. Just where we are health-wise our outfield is pretty strong. He’s a big part of our future going forward and somebody we really believe in. I’m sure he’ll be back up here soon.”

With Hays returning from his calf strain, it remains to be seen how Baltimore incorporates Stowers into an already crowded outfield that includes rookie Colton Cowser and veterans Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander.

Stowers made his major league debut in 2022 and featured again in 2023. His first stint lasted 34 games, and while he performed well (with a .253 average), his second stint was less promising; Stowers played in 14 games at the start of last season but was sent down after hitting .067.

Stowers then dealt with injuries in Triple-A but still hit 17 homers at that level last year.

“I was optioned on Mother’s Day last year, and then the string of events that happened after, the injuries and whatnot, and then to be called up on Mother’s Day, it was just a cool full-circle moment,” Stowers said. “Obviously, a lot of work to be done still, but just very excited to be here.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

View post on Twitter

Cowser has turned a fourth outfield role to begin the season into an everyday gig by bursting out of the gate. He earned the American League’s Rookie of the Month award for March and April. While Santander’s batting average is lower than usual (.218) he’s still producing power numbers. Santander’s seven homers are the second most on the team, and his 25 RBIs are third.

Mullins, meanwhile, has been stuck in a rut at the plate. The center fielder is in the midst of a 5-for-54 stretch and was out of the starting lineup Saturday and Sunday. Hays, too, struggled before his calf injury. He hit .111 in 19 games but showed improvement on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie that includes five hits in five games.

McKenna, who was designated for assignment for the second time this year, primarily served as a late-game replacement. He played in nine games but received just nine plate appearances, during which he recorded three hits.

“He’s a clubhouse favorite and well-liked in the dugout with the energy he brings,” Hyde said. “Hoping for the best for him, whether that’s getting claimed by another team or back in Triple-A with us. Whatever the best situation is for him personally that’s what I’m hoping for.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Stowers could see time in the lineup as a left-handed bat. The Toronto Blue Jays are starting right-handers on Monday and Tuesday at Camden Yards. Plus, with two stints already under his belt, Stowers feels more prepared this time around.

“I know what I’m coming into,” Stowers said, “and I think that’s the difference.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

More From The Banner