Sunday, April 14, 2024

Jackson Holliday homers in first Triple-A at-bat after Orioles option MLB’s No. 1 prospect

Major league Opening Day was Thursday and Friday is Opening Day at the Triple-A level, which means many of the game’s top prospects are opening their individual seasons.

Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday, the sport’s No. 1 prospect, did not make the club’s Opening Day roster despite slashing .311/.354/.600 in 48 plate appearances this spring. The O’s sent him back to Triple-A, where he played 18 games at the end of last season, and sure enough, Holliday went deep in his very first at-bat of the 2024 season.

To the action footage:

Note that Holliday hit that home run against a left-handed pitcher (Tampa Bay Rays southpaw Mason Montgomery, to be specific). That is Holliday’s first career homer against a lefty. Prior to this season, Holliday had not taken a single lefty deep in 145 games since being the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft. He checked a new box in his first at-bat of the new season.

Following the demotion, O’s GM Mike Elias said exposing Holliday to higher quality left-handed pitching was part of the motivation for starting him in Triple-A. Here’s what Elias said at the 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,” Elias told Meyer. “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.” 

One at-bat into his Triple-A season, Holliday answered the call. The Orioles want to expose him to high-end left-handed pitching and he took a lefty deep in his first at-bat. Hard to respond more authoritatively than that.

Holliday will play the entire 2024 season at age 20. He authored a .323/.442/.499 batting line with 30 doubles, 12 homers, and 101 walks while climbing from Low-A to Triple-A last year. All indications are Holliday, the son of longtime big leaguer Matt Holliday, will be an impact player and soon. He’s not long for Triple-A.

Of course, the Orioles did not need Holliday to cruise to an 11-3 win (box score) over the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day. New ace Corbin Burnes struck out 11 in six innings of one-hit, one-run ball. Baltimore is loaded with young talent and Holliday still has yet to make his MLB debut.

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