Jackson Holliday debut: Orioles executive explains why Baltimore changed plans and promoted MLB’s top prospect


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Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday has been the talk of the league this week after making his big-league debut. Although Holliday remains hitless (he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts on Friday, putting him at 0 for 11 to begin his career), he’s certain to get hot soon. After all, this is the same player who was ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 1 prospect in the minors in the preseason, and who then hit .333/.482/.595 with two home runs and four more walks than strikeouts across 10 Triple-A games. 

Other than asking when Holliday will record his first hit, the biggest question asked about him is why the Orioles promoted him when they did. The Orioles did not manipulate Holliday’s service time to the extent that they’ll prevent him from achieving Super Two status. Instead, he could still be in line to earn a full year of service, in turn potentially earning the Orioles a draft pick if he plays well.

So, what purpose did Holliday’s brief stay at Triple-A achieve? On Friday, Orioles executive Mike Elias attempted to explain by noting that Holliday had carried over the momentum from his white-hot exhibition season. 

“I wouldn’t say that we feel he achieved a change or development in this time, but he gave us more assurance from what we saw from him in the first 10 days that he would be ready — or at least ready to not be harmed — by doing what we’re seeing him do right now,” Elias told Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Banner, “which is learning the major leagues on the fly at age 20, with a position change and with a kind of imbalance in his abilities against right-handed pitching and left-handed pitching right now.”

Elias had originally pointed to Holliday’s position change and vulnerability against left-handed pitching as the main reasons why he was sent to the minors. It’s perhaps worth noting that Holliday still didn’t see many lefties — just a dozen of his plate appearances came with the platoon disadvantage — but the Orioles clearly felt good enough about his performance to change their plans. Fair enough.

Holliday and the Orioles, now 8-5 on the season, will continue their much-hyped weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon



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