As MLBPipeline.com’s No. 1 prospect, Jackson Holliday moved to Double-A Bowie on Friday for his first game at that level. It was the next challenge for the 19-year-old shortstop that was drafted No. 1 overall by the Orioles almost exactly a year ago today.
But Bowie manager Kyle Moore, while acknowledging the challenges the kid will face hitting Eastern League pitching, also looks at a steady stream of top prospects the last few years that found their way to Bowie and had their bats meet the challenge. In some cases more than meet it.
In 2021 for the Baysox, Adley Rutschman had a .900 OPS in 80 games and Kyle Stowers was at .938 in 66 games. In 2022 at Bowie, Colton Cowser was at 1.037 in 49 games, Gunnar Henderson 1.025 in 47 games, Connor Norby .960 in 64 games and Jordan Westburg had an .817 OPS in 47 games.
This year, on their way up to Triple-A Norfolk, Coby Mayo was at 1.027 in 78 games, Heston Kjerstad .959 in 46 games and César Prieto .882 in 58 games.
“It’s a long list over the last two to three years, and so I think we are all proud of that. I certainly am,” Moore said, throwing some props to his coaches. “It’s the third No. 1 prospect this organization has seen in three years, with Adley and Gunnar and now Jackson. And Grayson Rodriguez was the No. 1 overall pitching prospect, so there is a lot to be proud of. Jackson being on that list now, and a true shortstop and the No. 1 overall pick, we are ecstatic to have him. I just can’t wait to watch him play. Watch a kid that talented go about his business.”
And with that long list of prospects now having moved on, Holliday is next up to try to put up some big numbers at Bowie.
“We will not shy away from the challenge of ushering him through a really difficult sort of opponent, if you will," Moore said. "Every night he’s going to face a guy that is better than any pitcher he’s ever seen, except for when he was in the Futures Game. I think we’re ready for that, and to help him navigate this league with a bunch of 25- and 26-year-olds that have probably played seven years more than he has.
“This kid hasn’t played a whole bunch of baseball and yet he’s outperformed every league he’s ever played. That’s different.”
Holliday may play some second base on occasion, but he’s obviously going to be the everyday shortstop now for Bowie. And he will bat prominently, near the top of the Bowie batting order.
“He’s going to hit second or third pretty much every night," Moore said. "I can’t imagine him hitting lower than third. I do think I’m conscious of hitting some guys in front of him and behind him that will give him some protection.”
Last night, in his second Double-A game, Holliday went 3-for-4 with three singles, two of which were infield hits, as Bowie beat Akron 1-0. So he is batting .556 (5-for-9) with five singles this weekend.
Right-hander Alex Pham pitched four scoreless innings and lowered his Double-A ERA to 1.04 in four games and 17 innings with the Baysox. It was a four-pitcher one-hitter as lefty Cionel Pérez, on rehab from Baltimore, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless. Ryan Long got the win in his Double-A debut with 2 1/3 scoreless. Connor Loeprich got the final three outs for the save.
When Holliday was promoted from Single-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen in late April, he went 0-for-7 in his first two IronBirds games. Before long, he was raking there. But this time, in his move up to Bowie, he has not waited for his third game to get a hit at the new level.
The win streak reaches seven: Being down 4-0 after the top of the second was no problem for the Orioles last night in front of 28,593 at Oriole Park. Their win streak reached seven in a 6-5 victory over Miami. They won another series, just their second all-time versus Miami. They were 10-28 against the Marlins as this series began.
Gunnar Henderson's 14th homer, a solo shot, tied the game 5-5 in the seventh. Anthony Santander's liner to right went for an RBI single and a 6-5 lead.
The O's run differential for the year is plus-52 after this latest win. But it is plus-39 during this win streak, when the seven-game score is Orioles 55, opponents 16.
The Orioles are two games back of Tampa Bay for the American League East lead and can sweep this series today. Right-hander Kyle Bradish (5-4, 3.32 ERA) takes the mound at 1:35 p.m.