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NASHVILLE—Shortstop Jackson Holliday, who turned 20 on Monday, will come to spring training for the second consecutive year in 2024. When he arrives at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex in February, he’ll do it as the consensus top-rated minor leaguer in baseball.
The Orioles believe that on March 28th, when they open the season at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels, Holliday will be on their 26-man roster.
“It’s definitely a very strong possibility,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. He had a historic first full season in the minors, probably you’d have to go back to the ’80s or ’90s to find something similar to that for an American kid out of high school.”
Holliday, who was the overall No. 1 pick in July 2022, began 2023 at Single-A Delmarva and moved on to High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.
Named the Orioles’ top minor league performer in 2023, Holliday hit .323 with a .941 OPS with 12 home runs, 75 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
“Got to Triple-A, wasn’t there a huge amount of time, didn’t tear the cover off the ball, but he more than held his own and he did well,” Elias said. “He’s now going to go back in spring training. He just turned 20. To me, that’s a big year of development, 19 to 20. You get taller. You get heavier. You get mature. There’s a lot of good things that can happen.
“We just want to see what he looks like. He’s going to be treated in this major league camp, not like a prospect — we’re kind of having fun, we’re having a good camp for the experience of it — but with a guy trying to make a team.”
Holliday is a natural shortstop and has played 25 games at second base and four at third in his brief minor league career.
“In Sarasota, we’re going to see him at short and second base,” Elias said. “We probably won’t do much beyond that this year because I think that’s where his skills profile best, but it also seems to me where he fits for playing time in 2024, the bulk of his playing time in 2024.”
Manager Brandon Hyde was impressed with what he saw of Holliday last spring training.
“I’ve never seen a kid that young go that fast, have that much success this fast, especially at a high level like Triple-A for 19,” he said. “Jackson, the numbers he’s put up throughout his short minor league career are — especially for his age is really incredible.
“I think we’re going to give him as much looks as possible in spring training, give him every opportunity. We obviously really believe in his talent. He’s going to have a huge future and a great career. Whether it’s going to be breaking with us or not, I can’t answer that right now, but we’re going to give him an opportunity.”
Elias doesn’t think that Holliday playing multiple positions will slow his development.
“That’s baseball today,” Elias said. “Gunnar [Henderson] was an example of how that could be accepted and not problematic. It’s challenging for the players, but they can handle it. Some of the biggest stars in baseball, Mookie Betts goes from the outfield to second base. It’s part of baseball now. It’s provides a lot of value and there’s very, very, very few players that stand in the same spot and nowhere else.”
Orioles pick 22nd in draft: The Orioles will pick 22nd in July’s draft. They were originally slated to have the 24th choice but because the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres exceeded luxury tax limits they dropped behind the Orioles.
They’ll also have the 32nd selection, a prospect promotion incentive since Gunnar Henderson won the American League Rookie of the Year award.
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