Leftovers from Jackson Holliday press conference

Shortstop Jackson Holliday signed his first professional contract yesterday, the $8.19 million bonus setting a record for a high school selection. A big-time perk for going one/one.

Holliday hasn’t made an extravagant purchase or drawn up a shopping list. He smiled about it yesterday, one of those moments that reminded you of his youth, that he’s still a kid.

“I already got a car,” he said, “so nothing yet.”

He has plenty of time. And a family that’s instilled the right values.

Holliday never thought about doing something else with his life, to pursue a different dream, and there are witnesses to it in his household. Never a time when he wanted to ditch the sport that his father, Matt, played in the majors for 15 seasons.

“Nope, not really,” he said. “This is kind of what I wanted to do as long as I can remember. It’s a blessing to be where I’m sitting right now.”

Area scout Ken Guthrie couldn’t have predicted last summer that Holliday would be the first pick in the 2022 draft and sit inside the auxiliary clubhouse at Camden Yards. The development of “man muscles,” as Matt called them, the “physical growth,” as executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias called it, allowed Holliday’s numbers to soar and his name to rise on boards throughout the country.

“We all saw it coming. It came quicker than most expected,” Guthrie said.

“He put in a lot of work. Physically, he just got bigger and allowed all his tools to rapidly excel.”

Guthrie also signed University of Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the second-overall pick in 2020, whose body didn’t fill out until he left high school. Holliday got a bit of a head start.

“It’s very similar,” Guthrie said, “it just happened a year earlier.”

Compliments chucked at Holliday yesterday weren’t confined to his skills as a player. Quite noticeable were mentions of his intangibles, his makeup and maturity, a support system that won’t fail him.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“From a scouting perspective, you watch the very small things happen, not only between the lines, but outside the lines,” Guthrie said.

“We felt Jackson, we had the confidence in that he just really handled himself like a big leaguer as an 18-year-old, and with that he just gives you the confidence for you to go in there and fight for that kid and say that this is the guy that we should take.”

The Orioles did their usual, thorough homework on Holliday and the other four players on their draft board. He checked all the right boxes.

“I think every player’s unique,” Elias said. “I just felt that … the poise he has on the field while he’s playing stood out to me. I think he’s an intelligent kid and he just has a lot of positives for him. “We do spend a lot of time getting to know players. When you’re getting looked at at the top of the draft, you’re usually a pretty special person. It’s not easy to become this good. It's not just gifted talent, and so you’re almost always impressed with it, the kids that you’re dealing with at the top.”

Holliday isn’t a finished product. His age and inexperience won’t allow it, of course. But I also found it interesting that the Orioles are just going to let him play, and they’ll do some tinkering if necessary.

They didn’t buy a Porsche with the idea of overhauling the engine.

“I can say at this moment in time, we don’t have any plans to make changes. That’s why we took him first,” Elias said.

“We like his swing, we like his approach at the plate. I think he’s going to prove that he’s got a good eye at the plate. And I think he’s got a really sound fundamental base with the way he throws, the way he addresses ground balls. He’s 18 and there’s a lot of refinement ahead offensively and defensively and it will just kind of come as he gets pitched to, makes mistakes in the field and gets exposed to pro instruction and the pro environment.

“Every single player encounters bumps and there’s going to be struggles, but we think that this is a player who’s really kind of set in the right direction, and we just kind of hope we can keep him on the path that he’s already on.”

Scott Boras, who goes from advisor to agent for Holliday, dropped his usual gems yesterday. It wouldn’t be a press conference without them.

The guy is a quote highlight reel, never at a loss for flawlessly constructed words.

“It's a rare library that the Holliday library gives Jackson,” he said, “and I can tell you he's read all the books.”

Who else comes up with this stuff?

When speaking of the positive influence Matt provides to Jackson from his years in the game, Boras said, “There’s a transference of maturity that creates a calmness.”

My next tattoo.

Elias resists playing the comp game. He’ll make those kinds of selections, but he doesn’t like comparing a draft pick to an established player. He passes on the “who does he remind you of” challenge.

Boras took a shot at it, making his own rules.

“I think what Jackson reminds me of is not an individual name,” Boras said. “He reminds me of components that you see the great players have. And that is a passion to play every day and the right reasons to play every day, and to create an internal expectancy that he really hopes to achieve and do so in his own time and foundation.”

I didn’t know until yesterday that Patrick Palmeiro, the oldest son of former Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, works for the Boras Corporation. He was counted among the agency’s contingent at Camden Yards.

Holliday brought up Palmeiro when asked whether he’s talked to any players with famous baseball fathers.

“Luckily enough, Patrick, his dad played for a really long time and he’s helped me through this a little bit,” Holliday said. “Just to lean on players that my dad has gotten to play with has been very helpful for me. And just kind of knowing what I’m getting into has been very helpful, just being raised in the game.”

Boras interjected that Holliday was referring to Palmeiro. Not just some random Patrick.

Holliday is confident without venturing anywhere near cockiness. Another appealing trait.

He wants to be in the majors within two years, if not earlier. May as well set the bar high.

He said it and smiled, almost sheepishly, though he was totally serious.

The Orioles think he’ll stick at shortstop, also why they selected him

“It’s an honor to be able to be in this organization and play a premier position that (Cal Ripken Jr.) played for so long,” Holliday said, “and I hope that I can get here and play shortstop for a really long time.”

The Orioles’ marketing team will love this kid. He’s got endorsement deals in his future. Start with the glorious head of hair.

Holliday has plenty of time for that, as well.

More with Boras, Guthrie and Rutschman on Jackson ...
Tyler Wells leaves game with back injury (O's lose...
 

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/