Jackson Holliday may be closing in on an Opening Day roster spot

On Dec. 4, Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, turned 20. He was a teenager no more. The next day at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias let the world know the kid had a good chance to make the O's 2024 Opening Day roster.

"It's definitely a very strong possibility,” Elias said that day, getting reporters attention in stating it so strongly.

Fast forward to this spring camp and the kid that is 20 is starting to really swing it well in spring games. After getting two hits versus the Yankees in Tampa Monday afternoon, he is 10-for-31, batting .323/.344/.613/.957 with two doubles, two triples and a homer. He is 6-for-14 his last four games.

Manager Brandon Hyde said the stat sheet will be just a small part of the evaluation of Holliday. But the kid is handling everything well thus far, from opponent pitchers like the Phillies Zack Wheeler and Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi, to every national reporter that wants his time to the fans that clamor for autograph.

He fits in well in a clubhouse where he is the young guy and the rookie and to me, he is looking like someone with a great chance to break north for the opener. Just like Elias said in December.

Holliday said he didn’t realize or hear how strongly the club felt about his OD chance until Elias' comments in Nashville.

“I didn’t (know that then),” he said. “I saw that and it’s encouraging, right? You always want to be in a position to make the team and have a legitimate shot.”

That he does and it’s going well, even though he knows nothing is secured yet and he has considered the chance he doesn’t make it for the opener.

“If that doesn’t happen, I’m still in a really good spot. Talking to my mom right before I left for camp, she said, ‘Well, if you don’t make it, you are 20 at Triple-A and knocking on the door of the big leagues. If you do make it, you are 20 and in the big leagues. It’s a win-win for me. Couldn’t draw it up better for myself. Quite a blessing,” Holliday said in Sarasota.

Holliday will play with the Orioles prospects this Thursday night in the Spring Breakout game versus Pittsburgh in Bradenton. It’s another chance for the No. 1 farm to show its stuff.

I asked Holliday what has made the O’s so good on the farm?

“The hitting department has a lot to do with that," he said. "The way that they encourage us to challenge ourselves. Do machines and mixed BP and how they treat their players, they do a very good job of creating relationships. And also, being able to help guys on a more personal level. They have done a really good job of that in addition to drafting players that are similar personalities, very competitive and want to play in the big leagues. That has helped guys push each other. With my draft class, it’s a very tight-knit group, especially with the hitters. We push ourselves to get better and push each other."

For Holliday, the push to make a big league roster may be close at hand. The opener is March 28 at Oriole Park against the Los Angeles Angels. 





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