It was quite interesting and maybe even a little controversial this week when MLBPipeline.com released an updated top 100 prospects list that elevated O’s prospect Jackson Holliday from No. 2 to the No. 1 prospect in the game.
Holliday leapfrogged Cincinnati’s Elly De La Cruz to get the top spot, with De La Cruz moving from No. 1 to No. 2. And this was not because De La Cruz, now in the big leagues, could soon lose his prospect eligibility. He still has it. So even while De La Cruz was making a name for himself at the big league level and recently hit for the cycle, the 19-year-old kid playing for the Orioles at High-A Aberdeen is now No. 1.
Baseball America's listing has De La Cruz No. 1 and Holliday No. 2.
This week I talked to MLBPipeline.com senior writer Jim Callis on several topics, including Holliday's ascension to No. 1 on their list.
“We took, as you might suspect, a lot of abuse," Callis said. "'Elly De La Cruz, what are you doing? He’s playing great, the Reds are playing great. His tools are amazing and you see him on a nightly basis.' We did take some abuse on that.
“But look, there is no wrong answer. If you want to say De La Cruz (is No. 1), you could easily make that case. But I just think, Jackson Holliday may not be 70- or 80-grade speed and arm and power, but I will throw out there: He’s a better hitter. No doubt in my mind, Jackson Holliday is a better hitter than Elly De La Cruz. I love Elly De La Cruz.
“With Jackson, we are talking about a guy that could be in Double-A later this year at 19. Jackson is probably the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues. He might be two grades better hitting than De La Cruz. He might have 70 power (later) and it’s 60 power (now). Look at his dad, he’s going to be a pretty good guy when he’s done growing. He may not be a 70 runner, but it’s a 60 runner and probably a 60 arm. And he might have a chance to better stick at shortstop than Elly De La Cruz.
“This was tough, but again I wouldn’t argue with anyone that wants to go De La Cruz. But I’ll bet on the guy that has the better bat. Not that De La Cruz has a bad bat. He has maybe an average-ish bat, maybe a tick above average, with some wonderful tools. I think Jackson Holliday has a plus-plus bat. Might not be an 80 bat, but it’s a pretty great bat, and the other tools are 55 and 60s and I’ll take that guy.”
And by the way, Callis has been raving about Holliday for a while now. In an interview here last winter he said - “I will be absolutely surprised if Jackson Holliday is not a superstar.”
It that same article, Callis said that, in comparable stages of their respective careers, Holliday is better than Gunnar Henderson, and the writer predicted Holliday will be in the big leagues next season.
“I told you I thought he would be the No. 1 prospect by the end of the season. I didn’t think by June,” Callis said this week. “He’s done it, and I wasn’t trying to make a self-fulfilling prophecy there. It is unbelievable and I can’t imagine we haven’t had a franchise do this: The No. 1 prospect in baseball in Adley Rutschman. He graduates and soon thereafter Gunnar Henderson is the No. 1 prospect in baseball. He graduates and soon thereafter Jackson Holliday is the No. 1 prospect in baseball."
Callis marveled at the Orioles having three players in a row that have become the No. 1 prospects in the sport.
“That is unbelievable. I can’t imagine what franchise would ever have had a run, three guys like that, even within a two- or three-year period, let along a calendar year," he said.
Holliday's homer was a walk-off: Holliday hit his eighth homer of the year last night, his sixth with High-A Aberdeen. His two-run shot in the last of the ninth sealed a 5-3 win for Aberdeen over Winston-Salem 5-3 at Ripken Stadium. It was the IronBirds' fifth straight win.
In 66 games between Single-A Delmarva and Aberdeen, Holliday is batting .321/.458/.533/.991 with 15 doubles, six triples, eight homers, 60 runs, 20 steals and 50 RBIs.
Via Twitter, click here to see Holliday's walk-off home run.