Is Baltimore Orioles top prospect Jackson Holliday ready for Opening Day nod?

The Orioles infielder has struggled in spring training ... prior to Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles
Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

The hype around Baltimore Orioles rookie Jackson Holliday is so palpable that you can almost taste it.

The 20-year-old infielder made his spring training debut last year with the Orioles, then the No. 3 prospect in the O’s farm system. Now, he sits at the top of the hill as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball.

The question on everyone’s mind right now is whether Holliday is ready to make the next step and join the Orioles’ Opening Day roster.

Right now, many projections include Holliday in the O’s lineup as the second baseman. One of these projections comes from CBS Sports, but those gurus also saw fit to ask the same question about Holliday’s readiness.

But why ask the question if he’s already the No. 1 prospect in baseball?

The answer lies in Holliday’s performance in spring training, which can be described as shaky at best, prior to a bit of a silver lining breakout on Tuesday afternoon.

Holliday’s batting performances have been the subject of scrutiny by analysts and fans alike. Prior to Tuesday's action, the infielder was hitting .235 with a .690 OPS in 17 at-bats. In that time, posted just two extra-base hits, a double and a triple. He put up only had two hits aside from those knocks.

What is perhaps more worrying is the drop-off between Holliday’s 2023 spring training and today. Holliday entered Tuesday sitting at an alarming .412 strikeout rate in 2024 against a .286 strikeout rate the prior year.

Sample size may be the primary culprit, of course, given that Holliday came to the plate just 14 times in his debut year. The percentages, however, could be red flags for times to come in the majors.

Orioles top prospect Jackson Holliday: ready for Opening Day roster?

Aside from the stats, manager Brandon Hyde seems poised to bring Holliday onto the Opening Day roster. He previously told the media in December during the Winter Meetings that Holliday would get “every opportunity” to make the Opening Day roster.

In talking to WBAL News Radio, Holliday himself said it hasn’t hit him that he has been successful at every level he has played at. “That was my goal, kind of something that I expect,” said Holliday. “That was my goal, is to make it Double-A and be in the big leagues in two years.”

Holliday’s ascension to the highest level in baseball has been talked over extensively, but only time will tell if he is ready to live up to the hype. Tuesday, hopefully, represented a silver lining and a turning point; Holliday went 3-for-4 with a double and triple, doubling up his preseason extra-base hit total. But does one good game alter a prospect's timeline? How about one bad week, following a transcendent minor-league season? Is that enough big-league sample to throw cold water on momentum? We'll need a bit more data to judge, in either direction.