Peter Schmuck: Jackson Holliday’s demotion is not a sign of failure for the kid or the club - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Jackson Holliday’s demotion is not a sign of failure for the kid or the club

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It had to be the toughest decision Orioles executive VP/general manager Mike Elias has made during the 5 ½ years he has spent building the team into one of the best in the major leagues.

Sending the sport’s No. 1 prospect back to the minor leagues after only 10 games isn’t going to make anybody happy, but Jackson Holliday clearly was overmatched at this level and should not be subjected to a prolonged assault on his self-confidence.

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To be honest, I thought the club would give him a one-month window to prove he belongs in the bigs for good, but the statistics – even in such a short sample – do not lie. Holliday had just two singles in 34 at-bats and struck out 18 times in 36 plate appearances. Maybe he would have snapped out of it this weekend against the Oakland A’s, but there is too much at stake for everyone involved to leave his future to chance.

It might be fair to argue that the club gave Gunnar Henderson a much longer leash during his rookie season last year, but even though he did not boost his batting average over .200 to stay until June, his struggles never looked like this. And no one imagined late last April that the Orioles were going to win 101 games and the American League’s top playoff seed.

This year, the Orioles are considered a legitimate World Series contender and manager Brandon Hyde and the front office have to be focused on that goal every day. They also have a responsibility to put Holliday in the best position possible to develop into the cornerstone major league player he is expected to become.

Holliday is dealing with failure for the first time in his baseball life, but he is not a failure. He climbed through the entire Orioles farm system in little more than a year and reached the major leagues at the tender age of 20. No one should be surprised that the final leap from the Triple-A level has been – at least for the moment – a bridge too far.

Elias took some heat for deciding a month ago keep Holliday in the minors for a few more weeks instead of putting him on the Opening Day roster, but the evaluation that the kid was not quite ready turned out to be right on the money.

The decision to bring him up two weeks ago was also the right decision after he hammered Triple-A pitching and left no good reason to keep him down at Norfolk. No one expected him to put up gaudy major league numbers right out of the chute, but when he didn’t show any real signs of catching up to the best pitchers on the planet, it was time to let him to return to the Tides and build back better.

Though he doesn’t look like he suffers from a fragile psyche, this is no time to put it to the test.

Remember, the same thing happened last year with rookie pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, who was sent back to work out some issues and returned to play a major role in the Orioles’ playoff run. Hopefully, Holliday will go down with the same determination and come back ready to roll.

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