Orioles' Elias calls Holliday's struggles 'a little hiccup' after demotion - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Elias calls Holliday’s struggles ‘a little hiccup’ after demotion

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE—After just two hits in 34 major league at-bats over 10 games, Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias decided to end the Jackson Holliday experiment—for now.

Elias surprised people when he decided that the 20-year-old Holliday needed more minor league seasoning at the end of spring training, and brought him to the major leagues after just nine games at Triple-A.

The 18 strikeouts, the .059 batting average with only two singles and an RBI and but two walks were enough to convince Elias that baseball’s top prospect needed more work at the minor league level.

“We decided to call him up and see how the translation to the major leagues would go on a short-term basis, and what we have seen here led me to the evaluation and opinion that he would benefit from going back and adjusting there rather than doing it here in real time,” Elias said on Friday.

One of the reasons Elias gave for sending Holliday down on March 22nd was that the Orioles were likely to face a lot of left-handed starters to begin the season, and that seems to be the case once again.

“We’ve got, it looks like, another slate of left-handed starters coming up, too, pretty heavy, so it probably meant a lot of time sitting out of the starting lineup during those games,” Elias said. “He needs repetitions.”

Elias doesn’t doubt that the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2022 will succeed.

“He got very intense, very specific feedback from major league pitching,” Elias said. “He’s a brilliant talent and a very sharp kid, and I expect he’s going to go implement those adjustments really quickly, but we felt that Triple-A and steady playing time in Triple-A was the place for that, for a number of different reasons, including his projected playing time for the next couple of weeks, but also the fact that we’ve got a team in a tight race in the American League East, and it’s just not an optimal place to be doing player development for a kid like him.”

Holliday hit .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs and a 1.077 OPS at Norfolk, and Elias expects him to return to the Orioles in short order.

“It’s a little hiccup,” Elias said. “It’s probably the first one that he’s ever had, and he’s ultimately going to be better off for it, but this is something that we did. Once it became clear to me that he would benefit better from going back to Triple-A, resetting his head, first and foremost, but also making some adjustments at the plate. I wanted to do it as quickly as possible.”

Elias met with Holliday before the Orioles began a seven-game homestand with Oakland and New York.

“We had a long conversation today here, and he took it really, really well,” he said. “He’s got a growth mindset, meaning that’s he going to focus on what he wants to do differently and what he wants to do to be better. I doubt he’s looking in the rear-view mirror too much. He took it very well. He’s going to respond excellently, and I hope he’s back up here really soon.”

Elias pointed out that other top prospects who are with the team, Grayson Rodriguez and Colton Cowser, benefited from a reset after struggling in their first big league stint.

“We moved him very fast in the minors,” Elias said. “That’s because he was doing so well. That’s because we were trying to get him to a spot where he was challenged. He gets all the way through Triple-A, comes into spring training, looks pretty good there.

“It was hard for me to know exactly where he was based on the evidence he was working with. Ultimately, do I like the way that this has gone in April? No, and I feel responsible for that. It was possible, just like it was for Grayson or Colton Cowser and these guys that this was a necessary development episode to be exposed to this before you’re fully ready for it, and now the work that you put in, you know exactly what you need to do to get back up there and that’s valuable. It comes at a cost to get that negative feedback. It’s valuable, and I guarantee you, Jackson’s going to channel that well.”

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