Shortstop Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall pick by the Orioles in the 2022 MLB Draft, is not even a year removed from draft day yet and his goal for the 2023 season is looking very reachable.
And that is to end the year playing for Double-A Bowie.
The 19-year-old lefty swinger, who moved up to No. 7 in a new Baseball America top 100 list this week, continues to be a star on the rise – both for the Orioles and among national prospects analysts who love his skills, talent and maturity.
It was on display in major league spring training when the kid fit in so well with much older players and then took the field and went 6-for-14 hitting .429 in spring games. He handled himself like a 10-year vet.
Then he began this season with Low Single-A Delmarva, batting .392 with an OPS of 1.190 in 13 games. That led to a quick promotion to High-A Aberdeen where he played his 11th game for the IronBirds last night, but his first game at home.
The home fans saw the IronBirds win 11-0 as Holliday went 2-for-5 with a single and solo homer and scored three times.
In 11 games with Aberdeen, Holliday is batting .310/.431/.524/.955 with two homers and five RBIs. Considering that Gunnar Henderson went 1-for-31 to begin his time in Aberdeen and that Heston Kjerstad had a .674 OPS there last year, this kid is making the move up from Delmarva seem like a walk in the park.
He is making it look easy, but said he has been challenged at this higher level and also noted that he is definitely a bit of a marked man as a No. 1/1 pick.
“Yeah absolutely,” Holliday told reporters Tuesday afternoon in a press conference at Ripken Stadium. “Sometimes you go up there and guy is 91 (mph) and then you get 94. Every now and then you get that. But it’s a pride thing, you want to go out and play well. And that is just how I go about it, but it’s fun to face the guy’s best stuff.
“Obviously it’s a higher level than Delmarva and the competition is better. Just adjusting to how they pitch me and the different shapes the pitches move the higher you go. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment at the beginning but I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.
“The more pitches that you see, the more comfortable you get. Talking to Gunnar and Heston during spring training and they all kind of struggled at the beginning (here) but they all started to figure it out. Just riding the highs and lows and trying to stay as neutral as possible.”
Holliday said it was a great experience being told so early this season he was getting a promotion.
“It was really neat. It’s a little different, but you are moving on up. Which is kind of cool. The guys in Delmarva were awesome, the coaching staff was great, so it was kind of sad to wave bye to them but I’m excited to be here and trying to get out of here as fast as possible now. That’s the new goal,” he said.
“My goal coming into the year was to get to Double-A. So I’d say this is a good start to be here in the fourth week or so of the season. Heading in the right direction I guess. Will just try to take it game by game.”
The spring training experience in major league camp gave him the chance to watch, play and learn from the big league players.
“It was awesome. Very grateful to be a part of that,” Holliday said. “Watch players and be around players like Gunnar and Adley (Rutschman). Just watch their day-to-day work and how they handled themselves. It was really, really awesome to watch how talented the team was and how awesome the people there were. I feel like I belonged and really excited to be up there in who knows how long.”
For now he’s ready for the nightly challenges at the High-A level, knowing there is a good chance he could meet his preseason goal of ending the year with Bowie. The kid seems to have a great approach to player development and he knows every experience he gains just adds on his strong resume and provides a further chance for individual development and growth.
“I’m excited to be here. I feel like I’ll be here for the majority of the time. So, just trying to stay in the moment and get better each day and it will all take care of itself," he said.
The quotes for this story were compiled from yesterday's press conference via a video provided by the Orioles.
Orioles beat Tampa Bay: There was some drama late, yes, it seems to be a nightly thing with these Orioles, but they also won again. Baltimore improved to 23-13 with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay Tuesday at Oriole Park. A victory tonight would give them a series win over baseball's best team and a 3-3 mark against Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
The Orioles, winners of 15 of the last 21 games, are 10-5 at home and 5-6 versus AL East teams.
In this rugged five-game run of games against the Braves and Rays, the O's team ERA is 2.91, allowing 17 runs. The rotation ERA is 2.93 the last five games and it was 5.65 at the start of the Atlanta series.
How about those Tides?: As Triple-A Norfolk began a new six-game series last night, the Tides scored seven runs in the first inning at Jacksonville and won 10-2. The Tides are 25-8. Jordan Westburg drove in three more runs and his ninth homer.
Click here to see the video via a tweet of Holliday's homer last night at Ripken Stadium.