When can we expect to see Jackson Holliday with the Orioles?

Jackson Holliday is a rising star, but where does he fit on the Orioles?
Jackson Holliday is a rising star, but where does he fit on the Orioles? / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

Jackson Holliday was the number one overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2022 draft. In his short time with the Orioles organization, he's made quite the name for himself and is now the Orioles #2 prospect (#10 overall per MLB.com). Holliday, making his own name, instead of being known as the son of former MLB All-Star Matt Holliday, is already a big accomplishment.

After being just the third number one overall pick in franchise history, the Orioles placed Holliday in the Florida Complex League where Holliday quickly showed that he was more than just another high school talent. In Holliday's first eight games in professional baseball, he batted .409/.576/.591 with one double, one homerun and three stolen bases while not being caught stealing. Holliday also had an impressive 2:10 K:BB ratio in 33 plate appearances. He was promoted to the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds where he played 12 more games to end the season.

Top Baltimore Orioles prospect Jackson Holliday promoted to High A

The Orioles gave Holliday a non-roster invite to 2023 Spring Training to get a better look at him. Holliday, who entered his first full professional season at only 19 years old, again impressed the Orioles staff and stuck around with the big club longer than anyone projected batting .429/.556/.500 with with one double, two stolen bases and a 4:4 K:BB ratio this spring. Holliday was eventually sent back to Delmarva to continue his progress with the Shorebirds. In Delmarva, Holliday has continued to shine with a .392/.523/.667 slash line including six doubles, one triple, two homeruns and three more stolen bases, all leading to an incredible 1.190 OPS. Not to mention a .978 career fielding percentage having only two errors while playing both shortstop and second base. Holliday now finds himself on his way to the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds.

In an interview in March, Andy Kostka of The Baltimore Banner reported that when Holliday was asked about when he feels he could make it to the Orioles, Holliday stated “Next year, hopefully I’ll be able to play good enough to make it up,”. “I’d say two to three years is my goal, personally. We’ll see what happens.” Holliday also stated that his goal for this season was to get to Double-A Bowie. Holliday is halfway to his goal for this season and his goal to be with the Orioles at some point during the 2024 season is not far-fetched.

Adley Rutschman, the 2019 first overall draft pick by the Orioles is the closest comparison. Rutschman played three levels of professional baseball the year he was drafted , finishing the season with the IronBirds. Rutschman played at the off-site during the pandemic affected 2020 season. Then during his first full season Rutschman played for the Bowie Baysox and made his way to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. Rutschman was able to break into the majors during his second full season, if you don't count 2020 as a full season.

The one major difference between Rutschman's and Holliday's scenarios is that Rutschman had a much easier path to the Orioles catcher position than Holliday faces as a middle infielder. In 2019-21 the Orioles starting catcher was Pedro Severino. Severino was a good catcher but was never viewed as a franchise cornerstone. In 2022 The Orioles began the season with Robinson Chirinos as the starting catcher, but he was clearly just a place holder until Rutschman arrived. Rutschman was drafted in the absence of any clear opposition at the catcher position and the Orioles could afford to wait for him to develop while they were not able to put competitive teams on the field at the major league level.

The O's have continued to draft at a high level and have laid a gauntlet of talent that Holliday will have to overcome. Let's take a look at the infield talent that Holliday will have to surmount to make his way into an Orioles uniform.

Jorge Mateo is the starting shortstop again this season. A former top prospect in the New York Yankees organization (over Aaron Judge), Mateo seems to finally be reaching his potential in his age 27 season. Mateo was robbed of a gold glove in 2022 and his effect on the defense is undeniable. Mateo led the American league in stolen bases in 2022 and did so with only a .221/.267/.379 slash line. This season Mateo is slashing .358/.410/.623 and has played the first month of the season like an MVP candidate. Mateo could be a major factor in an Orioles team that is finally ready to contend.

The primary third basemen for the Orioles are top prospect Gunnar Henderson and gold glove winner Ramon Urias. Henderson is off to a slow start offensively and is still learning the position defensively but there's no denying the talent that Henderson possesses. Given a few more years to develop I'm sure Henderson will look like the player we saw at the end of 2022 and more. Urias is 28 years old and could still be in his prime when Holliday makes the majors. The Orioles have already moved Urias to a utility role which is not a spot they expect Holliday to fill.

The clearest path for an Orioles infielder is second base. Adam Frazier is off to a very good start but is 31 years old and probably playing at his peak. He's a good player but his peak lacks the potential that Holliday has. Terrin Vavra is still trying to reach his peak, but for now looks like he will be a high-quality super utility player.

At Triple-A Norfolk the Tides utilize a combination of Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby. All three are able to play shortstop and second base and all are expected to make their Orioles debut's at some point this season. Westburg (Orioles #4, overall #68) is slashing .281/.359/.474, while Ortiz (Orioles #7, overall #91) is slashing a robust .361/.373/.492, and Norby (Orioles #8, overall #97) is batting .250/.364/.482. The Tides have had the nice problem of having to move these guys around to get them all plenty of playing time and they have responded well while getting the advantage of learning new versatility. All of these players are just one call away and the way they're playing that call could come any day. The Orioles also have Coby Mayo (Orioles #9) in Bowie just to make it that much more crowded.

Holliday is the highest rated prospect of the bunch but is also the furthest from the majors. The O's are ready to compete now and could very soon be a legitimate World Series Contender. The only thing that is clear is that they can't fit all of these players into the same Orioles lineup that already has so much talent. Maybe a package to the Los Angeles Angels for Shohei Ohtani? Mike Elias, the ball is in your court.