ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Orioles are planning to promote outfield prospect Heston Kjerstad ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told The Baltimore Banner. The move comes after the team placed outfielder Austin Hays on the 10-day injured list with a calf strain.

Kjerstad has gotten off to a red-hot start at Triple-A Norfolk, hitting .349 with a 1.176 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 21 games. The 25-year-old made his debut last year and is already on Baltimore’s 40-man roster.

In a 13-game sample in the major leagues last season, Kjerstad hit .233 and lifted two homers. Kjerstad is known for his power — he has already blasted 10 homers this season with 30 RBIs — and he can play the corner outfield positions and first base. The Baltimore Sun first reported Kjerstad’s expected promotion.

Hays, meanwhile, has struggled out of the gate. He dealt with an illness during spring training that caused him to lose 10 pounds. The outfielder managed five hits in 45 at-bats before the Orioles placed him on the injured list Monday. It’s Hays’ first trip to the injured list since 2021.

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“We’re pretty confident he’s going to be back fairly soon after the IL stint, but that’s what he needed, for it to calm down a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Getting some work in the training room to try to get him to 100%. But yeah, it’s been a little bit of a tough year for him so far this year. It’s unfortunate, because I thought he was starting to swing the bat his last couple games he played, and he’d be in there tonight. But injuries happen, and hopefully it’s just a little blip on a good season for him.”

When Kjerstad arrived last season, it was in the midst of a final push toward the postseason. He also made the playoff roster for the American League Division Series.

Kjerstad didn’t play every day upon his arrival in the majors, which is an adjustment period for many top prospects. It will likely be the same situation the left-handed-hitting Kjerstad enters this year, especially with left-hander Tyler Anderson scheduled to pitch Wednesday for the Angels.

Kjerstad, of course, is one of many highly touted prospects in Norfolk who are hitting well. Kyle Stowers has opened the year with six homers and a .244 average. Infielders Coby Mayo and Connor Norby are hitting .344 and .303, respectively.

For now, it’s Kjerstad receiving the call.

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.

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