Holliday hit parade marches along on first five-knock night

Top-ranked Orioles prospect raises OPS to eye-popping 1.206

May 18th, 2023

Just 24 hours after being thwarted of a chance at his first pro cycle due to rain, Jackson Holliday upped the ante: a five-hit, five-RBI, four-run night in which MLB’s No. 3 overall prospect raised his OPS through the first six weeks of play to 1.206.

Notching a quintet of hits for the first time as a pro is the latest achievement in a mystifying run to begin the 2023 season, Holliday’s first full campaign since he was selected by the Orioles with the first overall pick last summer.

To recognize the occasion and High-A Aberdeen’s eventual 13-3 victory, let’s take a look at each knock:

Hit 1: RBI triple, Top 1
Facing No. 15 White Sox prospect Kohl Simas, Holliday kickstarted the Aberdeen offense in short order. After working the count even, the left-handed-hitting middle-infielder took a pitch on the outer third and swatted a triple into the left-center-field gap.

Hit 2: RBI single, Top 2
No waiting around on this one. Holliday was first-pitch hacking and ripped a liner to center that kept the line moving in a five-run IronBirds frame. He would go on to swipe third later in the frame, his 10th steal of the year.

Hit 3: RBI single, Top 3
Now into the Winston-Salem bullpen, Holliday again worked the count back even before striking. With outfielder Luis Valdez swiping a bag mid-at-bat, the Orioles’ No. 1 prospect was afforded the opportunity to plate another run, and he came through, slashing his second single in as many frames to center.

Hit 4: RBI double, Top 5
Ahead in the count for the first time, last year’s No. 1 overall pick took full advantage of yet another offering on the down-and-away quadrant of the zone, sizzling a double to left-center.

Hit 5: RBI triple, Top 7
Holliday wasn’t afforded the opportunity to swing for the cycle Tuesday. He had such a chance Wednesday -- twice -- and ultimately fell a homer shy, but he managed to wallop his fifth triple of the season (showing off those 60-grade wheels in the process), a lined smash to right after the Dash finally attempted to crowd him in. He may have come one notch shy of his first cycle, but he did scamper across the dish once more, scoring Aberdeen's final run on a wild pitch to cap a night to remember.

Holliday has been a catalyst for the IronBirds’ offense. In the 14 games prior to his arrival, Aberdeen averaged 4.2 runs per contest; since the precociously talented teen joined the fold, they have delivered 5.4 runs per night.

When MLB Pipeline updated its Top 100 rankings earlier this week, Holliday leapfrogged right-hander Grayson Rodriguez for pole position on the Orioles’ list; MLB.com writer Jim Callis has been steadfast in his belief that by season’s end -- at the latest -- the 19-year-old will be in the conversation to be considered the premier prospect jewel in all of baseball.

Many scouting directors and talent evaluators believe that one of the biggest challenges for any hitter is the jump from Single to High-A. It appears Holliday missed that memo.

Holliday’s 2023 Single-A numbers: .392/.523/.667, nine XBH, 15 RBIs, 223 wRC+ in 13 games
Holliday’s 2023 High-A numbers: .391/.500/.719, 11 XBH, 17 RBIs, seven SB in 18 games

“He played very well in Delmarva and showed that he’s one of the best players in the league in, really, all indicators, and that he needed to be challenged more appropriately,” Baltimore director of player development Matt Blood said following Holliday’s promotion to Aberdeen on April 24.

If the above sentiment holds true, Holliday may be forcing another step up the rung sooner rather than later.