After Double-A promotion, top Orioles prospect Jackson Holliday ‘wouldn’t put it past myself’ to end year in major leagues

14 July 2023

Jackson Holliday has put a lot of miles on his truck. He just moved into his third apartment of the year. He believes it’s possible to increase both counts before his first full professional season is over.

Fresh off a call-up to Double-A Bowie that marked his second promotion of 2023, the Orioles’ top prospect thinks he might not be done yet.

“I came into spring training [with] this as my goal for the end of the year and reached it,” Holliday said. “So now, there’s new goals.”

Asked whether reaching the majors at 19 years old is an achievable one, Holliday didn’t shy from the possibility.

“That would be quite something,” he said Friday before his debut at Prince George’s Stadium. “But I wouldn’t put it past myself at this point, so who knows?”

In the past 15 years, only four teenage position players — Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jurickson Profar and Juan Soto — have recorded plate appearances in the majors, but Holliday’s confidence in potentially joining that group is well-earned.

Eighteen months ago, not even the Orioles viewed Holliday as a candidate to be their No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft, but the young shortstop has continually grown as a player since. This season across Low-A Delmarva and High-A Aberdeen, he has hit .331/.466/.523 with seven home runs, 12 doubles, six triples, 20 steals and 67 strikeouts against 64 walks, while taking only two plate appearances against pitchers younger than him. It has not yet been a year since he was drafted.

MLB Pipeline has him as the sport’s No. 1 prospect, while Baseball America has him second behind only Cincinnati Reds sensation Elly De La Cruz. Holliday described the recognition as “neat,” particularly in that he’s at the same spot Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson were in their careers, but added it won’t change anything about who he is as a player. Echoing how Rutschman and Henderson viewed that status, Holliday said his goal is to be a big leaguer, not a top prospect.

“He’s very mature for his age,” St. Louis Cardinals All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado said this week. “Way more mature than I was at that age and just somebody that’s going to be a very good ballplayer, and he’s going to be up there very soon. I don’t know if it’s going to be at the end of this year, but maybe next year, but the talent is through the roof.”

Arenado was once teammates with Holliday’s father, seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, in Colorado, but had used him as a resource for hitting tips before that and has joined the Hollidays for offseason training in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Jackson returned there briefly this week, getting to hit with his brother, Ethan, a top prospect in the 2025 draft class. He has oft credited following his father’s career as what has allowed him to handle the start of his own so well.

“He texts me the other day, he’s like, ‘This looks really fun. I wish I could still be doing that,’” Jackson said. “And that’s kind of neat for me because sometimes you get tired, and I just think about that, how he got to play for so long and he still misses it so much.”

Holliday grew up in clubhouses and ballparks. He recalled Friday how during Game 6 of 2011 World Series, his mom, Leslee, took him and his siblings into the Busch Stadium family room when it seemed Matt’s Cardinals were about to lose. But when they begin to rally, “we’re like, ‘OK, well we can’t move,’” Holliday said.

“All I knew growing up was playoffs,” Holliday said. “Hopefully, we can continue that.”

Thanks to those times, he said little about this year has been a surprise. He acknowledged, though, the promotion to Bowie came somewhat quicker than he expected. In June, he hit .226 with a .702 OPS after posting figures of at least .350 and 1.100 in each of the season’s first two months. In his five July games before leaving Aberdeen to play in the All-Star Futures Game, he went 9-for-20 with a 1.110 OPS, a bounce back that Baltimore sees as key in its prospects’ developmental paths.

“I think failure is definitely important,” Holliday said. “There were some games where I was hitting the ball hard and just right at people and some games where I couldn’t even touch the ball. Just being able to overcome that and kind of go through it, I think it’s very important.”

His ability to do so will allow him to become only the fifth player in his age-19 season to take an at-bat in the upper minors this year, and he has a half-season of them to go. His hope is to have as strong of a second half as he did first.

That performance earned him two promotions. Another pair would get him to the majors.

“I was just trying to play well,” Holliday said. “If things happen, things happen, but trying to give the organization no reason to keep me down and just move up as fast as possible.”

This story will be updated.


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