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SARASOTA—In Tuesday’s Orioles’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jackson Holliday was called out on strikes in the ninth inning against left-hander Cam Allred.
Holliday took the strikeout and walked back to the bench. The 19-year-old, who was the first overall pick in last July’s draft didn’t strike out much in high school, where he was at this time last year, but he looked just as comfortable taking the punchout as he does in the field.
Allred, a 26-year-old has pitched in one major league game. Holliday only played in 20 professional games last season, and only 12 at Single-A Delmarva.
“He made some good pitches,” Holliday said. “At the end of the day, it’s a game of failure. You’re going to strike out. That’s just part of it. To learn from failure and move on is very important. I don’t enjoy striking out.”
Last year, Holliday hit just .238 for the Shorebirds and struck out 10 times, but he walked 15 times and had a .439 on-base percentage. In eight games for the Florida Complex League Orioles, Holliday .409 with 10 walks and just two strikeouts.
Holliday’s adaptability shouldn’t be surprising. He was a regular clubhouse visitor with his father, Matt, an excellent 15-year major leaguer, who played as recently as 2018. e was a ree
He also has spent considerable time around his uncle Josh, the coach at Oklahoma State in the Holliday family’s hometown of Stillwater.
At 19, Holliday is by far the youngest player on the Orioles’ 71-man spring roster, but he doesn’t seem like it.
“I think there’s a comfort in being in a clubhouse and being around big league guys,” Holliday said. “It’s not new to me. It’s something I’ve grown up. With a lot of the younger guys, I’ve been around Oklahoma State a lot. They’re very similar ages to all the college guys. It’s pretty easy tor me to get along with them and to relate with them. It’s been good. We have an awesome group of guys. That makes it easy.”
Holliday, the 12th rated prospect by MLB Pipeline looks at home not only in the clubhouse, but on the field. He made a nice play on a popup in the sun by Pittsburgh’s Lolo Sanchez in the sixth inning.
“Defense, I feel very comfortable in,” Holliday said. “At the end of the day, it’s just a ground ball and you’ve taken a million groundballs in my life. I haven’t faced big league pitching my whole life. That’s definitely a little different, but the more practice, and the more I get comfortable, it’ll become a lot easier.”
Manager Brandon Hyde is very comfortable putting Holliday in the late innings of games along with the Orioles’ other outstanding infield prospects.
“He’s a really impressive young man,” Hyde said. “First big league camp, 19. In high school this time last year. That popup yesterday, not easy, right in the sun, no panic. Just feel like he’s been out there a long time, and he’s just so young. I don’t think he feels any pressure or intimidated by playing in these games. He looks comfortable out there.”
Hyde doesn’t know how long Holliday will stay in major league camp. Minor league camp opens later this week, and the Orioles need to look at the other fine infielders who are closer to the major leagues: Coby Mayo, Connor Norby, Joey Ortiz César Prieto and Jordan Westburg.
The Orioles haven’t said whether Holliday will return to Delmarva to begin the season, but if he does, he’s likely to move to High-A Aberdeen before too long.
“Most 19-year-old first-round picks, it’s an A-ball type of season.” Hyde said. “They’re going to enjoy watching him. They saw him last year. He’s [an] above average, plus-defender. He’s going to be a really good hitter. He’s got great baserunning instincts already and been around the game a long time already for a young age. He’s going to be exciting to watch—wherever he’s at.”
When Holliday signed last year, he predicted he could be in the major leagues within two years, and his experience in camp haven’t dissuaded him.
“At the end it’s just baseball. It just gets more competitive as you move up,” Holliday said. “I love to compete. I do feel comfortable playing in those games. I don’t feel overmatched. Obviously, it’s difficult, but I feel like it’s something I can do and succeed in.”
Baumann’s first outing: Mike Baumann pitched for the first time this spring on Tuesday, allowing a run on Nick Gonzales’ home run in two innings. He walked one and struck out three.
“I felt like it was OK,” Baumann said. “Trying to limit walks. I had the solo shot. Overall, my goal is to go out there and fill it up and compete and get guys out as efficiently as possible.
“I was happy filling it up with the fastball, felt better this year with the curveball. My goal is to get that in more because that’s to my advantage.”
In parts of two seasons with the Orioles, Baumann is 2-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 17 games, four starts, and he’d like to solidify a place on the team.
“Every camp I try and come in and compete for a spot,” Baumann said. “There’s a lot of energy in the clubhouse. It’s probably more fun, having guys I played with. It’s been a fun camp so far.”
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