Jackson Holliday, Jackson Chourio face off in first head-to-head MLB series: Five things to know


Two of Major League Baseball’s future stars played against one another for the first time at the big-league level Friday night, when Jackson Chourio’s Milwaukee Brewers blew out Jackson Holliday’s Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards (MIL 11, BAL 1).

Neither Jackson had their best night Friday. Chourio went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts while Holliday went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Chourio’s season batting line sits at .244/.286/.400. Holliday is still searching for his first big-league hit.

Holliday, 20, only made his MLB debut on Wednesday. Chourio, also 20, broke camp with the big-league club after signing an historic eight-year contract worth $82 million over the offseason. (Coincidentally, they’re just two of three notable MLB rookies named Jackson, alongside San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill.)

With that pivotal information out of the way, here are five other things to know about this weekend’s series, including another compelling subplot involving the O’s ace.

1. Both are very well-regarded prospects

Holliday entered the spring ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 1 prospect in the minors. We wrote at the time that he was a “precocious lefty-swinging shortstop with superstar potential.” He’s since moved to second base out of deference to Gunnar Henderson. Here’s our full writeup:

Holliday should not be able to exceed expectations. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, and his father Matt was a seven-time All-Star. He should be burdened with unobtainable forecasts. Yet Holliday has consistently bested the best-case scenario since his high school senior year. In his first full professional season, he blazed through three levels, closing out with an 18-game stint in Triple-A. There, he batted .267/.396/.400 with a 90 mph average exit velocity. He was 19 years old. All of Holliday’s indicators, statistical and otherwise, are neon green. He has every tool and intangible necessary to become a star, even if he might require some time to upscale his power from the “gap” to the “over-the-fence” variety. (He needs to add more muscle and loft.) Given his demonstrated ability to overachieve, it would be foolish to bet against him making an impact at the big-league level in 2024. There is, in our estimation, simply no better prospect in the minor leagues.

As for Chourio, he was ranked No. 7. We summed up his game by writing that he was a “legit center fielder with big-time homer-steal potential.” Chourio, like Holliday, has shifted positions out of deference to another player. To date, he’s only played in right. Here is our complete writeup of him:

Chourio, the breakout star of the 2022 minor-league season, is a dynamic talent. He’s the rare player who can launch opposite-field home runs with regularity, as well as put infielders in a blender on would-be routine grounders. (There was a game in late April against the Angels‘ Double-A affiliate where he recorded infield singles to the shortstop and the third baseman in consecutive frames.) Some evaluators have expressed hit-tool concerns generated by his aggressive approach. It’s a fair consideration, but Chourio has earned the benefit of the doubt by holding his own in the upper minors at such a young age. If everything clicks, he’ll provide the Brewers with their fifth 30/30 season. And their sixth, their seventh, their eighth, and so on.

You can check out CBS Sports’ whole preseason top-50 prospect list here.

2. Holliday seeking first MLB hit

As noted in the introduction, Holliday only debuted on Wednesday. He’s since gone hitless over his first eight at-bats, striking out four times along the way.

Something tells us that Holliday will pick up his first hit soon enough. Mind you, Holliday had been on a white-hot tear in Triple-A. He hit .333/.482/.595 with two home runs and four more walks than strikeouts in 10 games. 

Additionally, 15 of Holliday’s 34 balls in play had exit velocities exceeding 100 mph. The league-average mark for batted balls over 95 mph is usually around 40%.

The Brewers are expected to start Freddy Peralta, DL Hall and Colin Rea this weekend. Peralta and Rea are each right-handed pitchers.

3. Chourio has produced

While Holliday is in search of his first knock, Chourio has already recorded 11 over his first 39 big-league at-bats. As a result, he’s hitting .282/.326/.462 (119 OPS+) with two home runs and two stolen bases. 

Chourio’s advanced data isn’t as impressive as his raw slash line: his average exit velocity is just 83.3 mph (though his speed is such a weapon that weakly hit balls can work in his favor), and he’s been prone to chasing and whiffing. Still, given his age, explosiveness, and experience level (he had appeared in six games above the Double-A level prior to making his big-league debut), the Brewers are likely encouraged by what they’ve seen so far — including this display of opposite-field power.

4. First meeting since Burnes trade 

But wait, there’s another storyline worth tracking: this will be the first time the Brewers and Orioles have locked horns since the two sides made the blockbuster trade in February that sent right-hander Corbin Burnes to the Orioles in exchange for lefty DL Hall, infielder Joey Ortiz and a draft pick. (You can revisit what we wrote of that deal by clicking here.)

Burnes is sporting a 1.93 ERA and a 10 strikeout-to-walk ratio following three starts. Hall has a 4.82 ERA after two starts of his own. Ortiz, over the course of 24 plate appearances, is batting .300/.417/.350 (119 OPS+). Small sample size caveats apply.

Both Burnes and Hall are scheduled to start this series: Hall on Saturday and Burnes on Sunday. Ortiz is likely to get some action for the Brewers at third base, too. 

5. Orioles, Brewers off to good starts

The Orioles entered Friday with an 8-4 mark, putting them 1.5 games back of the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East. The 8-3 Brewers, conversely, are tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for first in the National League Central.

There’s a lot of baseball to be played between now and October, meaning the following statement could age worse than certain produce. Still, we feel obligated to note that this weekend could theoretically serve as a potential World Series preview. 

Even if it doesn’t, it should be a fun three games. 



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