Holliday happy to keep learning from Orioles teammates while remaining in camp

SARASOTA, Fla. – The rest of Jackson Holliday’s teammates who stuck around for Wednesday’s exhibition game were gone from the complex or back indoors to shower and change into their clothes. The kid wasn’t ready to leave the field. He couldn’t just walk away from fans who lined up to get his autograph.

They handed him pieces of paper or baseballs shoved through a gap in the protective netting. One after another. Adults and children.

Holliday has looked the part since he arrived at his first major league camp, with maturity that belies his youthful face. And he’s keeping his locker, surviving yesterday’s first round of cuts that claimed 12 non-roster invites.

He came off the bench again yesterday in Clearwater, replacing Gunnar Henderson at shortstop and grounding out in the eighth inning. He’s 3-for-9 with a double, three walks, two strikeouts and a handful of impressive plays in the field that highlight his range and cannon arm.

“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s been a good learning experience and been pretty awesome to be part of this organization and with all these talented guys and getting to know them and building relationships for the future.”

The Orioles eventually will reassign Holliday to the minor league side and decide whether he returns to Single-A Delmarva or moves up a step to High-A Aberdeen. They exposed him to their development camp in early February. They extended a spring invite to a 19-year-old shortstop who’s a year removed from high school and a popular pick to become baseball’s No. 1 prospect in 2024.

Keep soaking in this environment, with eyes and mind wide open. Field the lessons as smoothly as the ground balls.

What has Holliday discovered so far?

“I’d say just how consistent all of them are with their work and how consistent that I need to be, and how important it is to be so focused on the little things,” he said.

“I’m just learning from these guys and what they do well, and watching them do their thing, it’s been really cool.”

The exhibition stats aren’t important to the Orioles, but Holliday had hits in consecutive at-bats over two games this week and delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in Fort Myers.

“It’s fun to get hits. You don’t want to go out there and get out every time,” Holliday said, flashing a smile that comes easily to him.

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to produce and to help our team be in the best position to win. It’s been good the last few games.”   

The single against the Twins came after Holliday was introduced as the batter for Henderson. Only in spring training would the Orioles send up someone else to hit for the current top prospect.

Not going to happen when the games count.

“Hopefully not,” Holliday said, laughing. “It’s fun to back him up and to watch him do his thing for seven innings.”

Holliday’s first professional season consisted of eight games in the Florida Complex League and the Delmarva dozen. If the Orioles already know where he’s headed this year, they aren’t ready to share it.

“I wish I knew, I have no idea, so we’ll find out sooner or later,” he said.

“I’d like to start in Aberdeen and High-A and move up as fast as possible. So, that would be ideal, but whatever they think is best, I’m happy with.”

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