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Orioles announce signing of No. 2 overall pick Heston Kjerstad

Orioles announce signing of No. 2 overall pick Heston Kjerstad

The Orioles have officially signed their top draft choice, and the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft, Heston Kjerstad. 

The team announced the move just after noon on Tuesday. 

According to Jim Callis, Kjerstad’s contract is worth $5.2 million, which is below the slot value of $7,789,900 the pick was valued at.

Kjerstad slashed a career .343/.421/.590 with 37 career home runs at Arkansas and played mostly in right field. He slugged 37 home runs in his career, which spanned 150 games. Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Kjerstad was the best left-handed hitter in the country.

RELATED: ELIAS EXPECTS FULL PARTICIPATION FROM O'S IN 2020

Kjerstad, 21, slashed .448/.513/.791 with five doubles, six home runs, 19 runs, and 20 RBI in 16 games during his shortened junior season. He led the Razorbacks in batting average, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases (53), on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. 

“This (Kjerstad) is a middle-of-the-order bat profile for us and we felt he was the best left-handed hitter in the country this year,” Elias said after Kjerstad’s selection. “This is somebody who’s going to hit for power and average and hit in the middle of our order for a long time while playing a quality right field defense.”

The Orioles signed 30th overall pick Jordan Westburg and 39th overall pick Hudson Haskin over the weekend, meaning the Orioles have now signed all but one — Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo — of their draft picks from this class.

Servideo was the 74th overall pick in the draft. The slot value for that pick is $844,000.

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Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

With two outs in the eight inning and the Phillies threatening to tie the score, Andrew McCutchen hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of the infield. 

Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz dove to his left, corralled the ball, and as he was falling, flipped a backhand shovel that rolled to second base just in time for the final out of the inning. It was one of the Orioles' best plays, on offense or defense, all season long. 

The standout defensive play kept the Orioles ahead 5-4, a score they’d win by, in their second straight win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It was the team's second-straight series win.

“That was a huge play,” Chance Sisco said. “It was crazy. Just going into the hole, obviously, is a tough play. And then I don’t know what happened, he stumbled a little bit and fell to the ground. I don’t know what it takes just to get that ball out of his glove. Just a great play.”

Ruiz’s defensive play assuredly prevented a run, and with a bullpen that had to work big innings, that play’s significance cannot be overstated.

“He’s just reading the ball really well, his feet are great, he’s just playing outstanding defense at third base,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That play that he made in the hole, that was game-saving and really won us the game.”

Ruiz had a good night at the plate as well, as he hit a solo home run — as did Anthony Santander and Sisco, to lead the way offensively for the red-hot Orioles.

RELATED: HOW SOON IS TOO SOON FOR THE O'S TO START THINKING ABOUT THE DEADLINE?

After falling down 3-1, they rallied to tie the game in the fourth inning then took the lead in the fifth. An insurance run, by way of Sisco’s home run, gave the Orioles a two-run lead entering the eighth inning. 

Then, they held on — aided by Ruiz’s absurd defensive play — to push their record to 9-7 with a chance for a sweep over the Phillies on Thursday.

Through 16 games of the 2020 season, the Orioles have already surpassed some people’s expectations of what figured to be a year without any notable or exciting games. 

Now, they’re just riding the wave.

“It seems like good teams have different guys on different nights,” Hyde said. “And right now, that’s what we have. We had some big hits tonight. Chance Sisco, Smitty. Middle relief is what won us the game, to me. We pitched well and we got enough runs to hold on.”

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Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

A night after the Philadelphia Phillies dropped a game to the Orioles due to defensive mistakes, Baltimore did the opposite to preserve a win on Wednesday.

Up 5-4 in the eighth inning, the Orioles found themselves in a jam with runners on first and second with two outs and Andrew McCutchen up at the plate. The Philadelphia outfielder slapped a ball between third base and shortstop that should have probably gotten through and tied the game.

But, unfortunately for the Phillies and luckily for the Orioles, Rio Ruiz was at the hot corner.

Not only was the range to stop the ball impressive, but Ruiz then had the instinct to flip the ball to second for the force out. The incredible play essentially saved the game and allowed Baltimore to pick up a 5-4 victory.

RELATED: PHILLIES ANALYST CALLS LOSS TO O'S 'EMBARRASSMENT TO BASEBALL' 

Ruiz also launched a solo homer in the top of the fifth inning to help the Orioles break a 3-3 tie, so it was an all-around impressive performance for the third baseman.

Manny Machado who? Okay, maybe not. But, one thing is true: You can't spell "Orioles" without "Rio." At least on Wednesday night. 

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