Home Why did the Baltimore Orioles send Jackson Holliday back to the minors?

Why did the Baltimore Orioles send Jackson Holliday back to the minors?

Chris Graham
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You’re suspicious as to why the Baltimore Orioles sent top prospect Jackson Holliday back to the minors for the start of the 2024 season.

You’re probably not off-base to be suspicious, but GM Mike Elias offers a good reason as to why it wasn’t about the O’s just trying to screw Holliday out of a year of service time.

“Because of how fast Jackson’s moved and his lack of professional experience, I think he’s only played, like, 18 games in Triple-A, in particular, he hasn’t faced a ton of major league-quality, or even Triple-A-quality, left-handed pitching. And that’s something that’s going to be thrust in his face when he’s in the American League East, whether that’s as a starter or the reliever they bring in to match up against him in the seventh inning.”

This was Elias to Baltimore Sun beat writer Jacob Calvin Meyer, and this is a good point.

Holliday has exceeded expectations to this point, which is how he finished his age-19 season at Triple-A Norfolk.

The middle infielder, the #1 overall prospect in all of MLB, had a solid spring, with a .954 OPS, .311 batting average, two homers and 14 hits in 45 at bats, though he did strike out 15 times in 48 plate appearances, and worked just three walks.

You really want to see him at second alongside shortstop Gunnar Henderson, the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year, who put up an otherworldly 7.2 WAR in 150 games, with 28 homers and an .814 OPS.

But, patience.

Holliday is probably more Adley Rutschman, the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, who was called up after 20 games in the minors, than Henderson.

And, no, unlike with Rutschman, who was a rookie under the old service-time rules, the suppression of Holliday isn’t about trying to squirrel away a year of his MLB time through chicanery.

The new rules actually incentivize bringing up a talent like Holliday by giving an extra draft pick to the team of the Rookie of the Year winner.

But there’s only two Rookies of the Year, and draft picks pay off years down the road.

Holding on to an extra year of service time for a guy projected to be a plus middle infielder has a lot more value than a draft pick.

For the time being, this means Brandon Hyde will have to make do with Jordan Westburg probably moving over from third to second, Ramon Urias holding down the third-base spot, Jorge Mateo being the utility guy, and the countdown beginning on Opening Day to when Holliday finally makes his big-league debut.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].