Gunnar Henderson said Jackson Holliday's Aberdeen start shows he is "special hitter"

Not only is 19-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday tearing it up in his first full pro season, but he is closing in on being ranked the top prospect in baseball, something that the Orioles' Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson did before him.

In the latest and updated rankings, Holliday is now No. 3 in the top 100 by and No. 6 via Baseball America.

This week he has shown the baseball world those rankings are well earned in his brief pro career.

He had a monster game on Tuesday night for High-A Aberdeen at Winston-Salem. In a game shortened by five innings due to rain he went 3-for-3 and drove in six runs. Last night he drove in five more. And he went 5-for-6, finally making an out on a liner to left in the ninth. He scored four runs and had five RBIs.

In the two games this week he has gone a remarkable 8-for-9 with two doubles, three triples, a homer, six runs scored and 11 RBIs. Amazing.

Through Wednesday night, after his first 51 pro games and less than a year removed from the Orioles selecting him No. 1 overall last July, he was batting .358 with an OPS of 1.100. He began this year with Low Single-A Delmarva and was quicky promoted to Aberdeen. Now he has his sights dialed on Double-A Bowie apparently.

Perhaps most impressive of all is at the ripe age of 19, Holliday is off to a blistering hot start with Aberdeen. The move up from Delmarva to Aberdeen in recent years has challenged some of the biggest names on the Baltimore farm.

Take a look at what three O’s that achieved top 100 prospect rankings did in their first 18 games at Aberdeen.

Gunnar Henderson: .167/.320/.350/.670

Heston Kjerstad: .194/.268/.319/.587.

Colton Cowser: .254/.357/.423/.780.

Cowser posted the best early stats at Aberdeen, a tougher park to hit in than Delmarva and of course you see better pitching as you move up. Some O’s officials anticipated some struggles for Holliday with the IronBirds. We have not seen it yet.

Here are the stats from Holliday’s first 18 games with Aberdeen: .391/.500/.719/1.219.

He is doing things that other top prospects didn’t do this soon at that level.

“It is cool to see him do that. He’s a great kid,” Henderson told me yesterday in the O’s clubhouse as the O’s prepped to play the Angels. “Watching him through spring training I knew he could do it. To see him do that right from the start it’s great. I don’t want to see him go through anything (with struggles). Yeah, to see him do that is awesome. I know it is really tough to hit there. That proves he is a really special hitter.

“I feel like that is your first real big promotion. You try not to let it affect you and try not to do too much. That kind of got me. I started off with struggles (going 1-for-31 with Aberdeen) and tried to change things there. That is where I learned. Glad to be able to learn there and still learning up here. Still going through some struggles but starting to come around a little bit. To get that experience was a big help.”

As he has gotten to know Holliday better in recent months, Henderson said he could see there are reasons this is a special talent that go beyond a great tool-set of skills that a scout might love.

“He is a great kid,” added Henderson. “He is not going to go out and say, ‘Look at what I am doing.’ He is going to put his head down and go to work. That is what you want with a guy with that talent. That is a testament to his parents and the way he was brought up. Really happy for him.

“Just love watching him play,” said Henderson.

At this point around Birdland, who doesn't?

O's go for another series win: Behind right-hander Tyler Wells (3-1, 2.68 ERA) the Orioles can win their four-game series today with the Los Angeles Angels. Their 3-1 win last night on a four-hitter gave them a 2-1 lead in the series.

A win today would make them 11-3 in series for the year.

O's pitching has stepped up in May, a stretch where the Orioles have faced quality offenses with teams like Atlanta, Tampa Bay and these Angels. The O's have allowed 29 runs the last 10 games with a team ERA of 2.53 in that span.

Over the last 12 games, O's starting pitchers have delivered six quality starts and they have 12 on the year, going 11-1 in those games.

Today is the final game of a 10-game homestand where the O's are 6-3 before they head off on a challenging road trip to Toronto and New York. 

Meanwhile, here are some tweets from Holliday's big game last night here, here and here.

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