Orioles top prospect Jackson Holliday ‘grateful’ to be in Triple-A amid ‘crazy’ year – Boston Herald


Jackson Holliday didn’t tell the hotel clerk to Google him Monday, but he did have to do some convincing.

Freshly promoted to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides from Double-A Bowie, Holliday was with his fiancée as he tried to check into a hotel in the city. The problem: Holliday is only 19, and the hotel required registering guests to be at least 21.

The other problem: The baby-faced shortstop looks like he’s barely reached adolescence.

The hotel clerk asked the couple what their situation was.

“I just got called up,” Holliday said. “We need a hotel that’s safe and nice.”

The clerk relented and rented them a room, and so began the stay of baseball’s top prospect on his first night in Triple-A.

Holliday, the top pick in the 2022 draft by Orioles and the son of seven-time All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday, was playing high school baseball in Oklahoma last year. When he arrived in Norfolk, he reached his fourth level of the organization this season alone.

Entering Tuesday, when he was slated to lead off and play shortstop for the playoff-bound Tides, Holliday had batted .328 with 11 home runs, 75 RBIs and 27 stolen bases through 127 career professional games.

But his success doesn’t explain away his youth.

“I feel like he should be dissecting a frog in Anatomy somewhere,” said Norfolk manager Buck Britton, a former longtime minor league utilityman. “It’s impressive. I never could’ve been at this level doing what he’s doing at that age. Just an impressive young man. He’s been around the game a long time. He gets it, and obviously, the skill set’s off the charts. So we’re excited.”

The 6-foot, 185-pound Holliday signed for $8.19 million after hitting .685 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs in just 40 games as a senior at Stillwater High, earning Baseball America National Player of the Year honors. He set a national high school record with 89 hits that season.

But Holliday, who has learned to become perfectly comfortable speaking to groups of TV cameras and reporters as he’s progressed, describes himself as an ordinary guy who likes to binge TV series, fish and play golf.

“I’m just a normal kid that happens to be pretty good at baseball,” he said.

“It’s pretty crazy what all has happened in a year, but I’m very grateful.”

Fellow Norfolk infield prospect Coby Mayo spent a brief time with Holliday during spring training. Mayo believes the hype is justified.

“I only got a small sample size, but he’s obviously a really good player,” Mayo, 21, said. “He has all five tools. I think him just being here will give a little new spark and some new life, because every new player you get — especially if he’s going to be at the top of the lineup — it’s going to be exciting just to have a new guy on the team.”

In just two seasons managing the Tides, Britton has seen the Orioles’ top prospects come to Norfolk, thrive and move on to the big leagues. Current Baltimore stars including catcher Adley Rutschman, shortstop Gunnar Henderson and right-hander Grayson Rodriguez are among Britton’s recent graduates.

Whether Holliday might be next remains to be seen.

“It hasn’t been discussed at my level,” Britton said. “Anytime you get an exciting player with a lot of tools, you never know what can happen. But he just got here today, so we’re going to get him comfortable, run him out there, let him play, let him get adjusted to this level and make the necessary adjustments, which I’m sure is going to be quick for him. We’ll see what happens.”

As the Tides finished batting practice behind him, Holliday admitted that he knows virtually nothing about Hampton Roads. Asked to pronounce the name of the city, he used a hard “L” in “Norfolk.”

Like everything else at the Triple-A level, he’s likely to learn.

Holliday said his mind doesn’t drift to what he might be doing otherwise or what his friends back home are up to as they begin adulthood. After a childhood spent in big league clubhouses, there was never a doubt.

“This is kind of what I dreamed of doing since I was little, so it was my only option,” he said. “I didn’t really have a Plan B or anything like that. Baseball is kind of what I’ve always planned on doing.”

Britton, 37, has watched as players like Mayo and Holliday have arrived at younger and younger ages. It’s an embarrassment of riches in a stacked organization.

“You’ve got a 19-year-old kid in the clubhouse,” Britton said. “I feel like I could be his dad, almost. That’s wild for me. But hopefully, he gets settled in and we get some grown men around him, and hopefully, he takes to that well. But of course, we’ll make sure we do everything to make him comfortable.”


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