Jackson Holliday Orioles call-up, explained: Why Baltimore is calling up MLB’s No. 1 prospect, per report

The Orioles are adding another gem to their already sparkling roster.

Just a few weeks after the start of the MLB season, Baltimore is calling up Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday night.

Holliday, 20, is viewed as a future star. He was widely believed to be on the brink of a call-up to the big leagues after an impressive spring training, in which Holliday posted a .311/.354/.600 slash line with two homers and two stolen bases.

His exploits charmed the masses, though he did also record a 31.1% strikeout rate in 45 at-bats.

The No. 1 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, Holliday enjoyed a stunning run through the minors, posting a .323/.442/.499 slash line in A, A+, Double-A and Triple-A ball. He spent 10 games with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides to start the 2024 season, hitting .333 with two home runs, five doubles and 9 RBI.

While Holliday failed to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, he’s slated to join former top prospects Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson in the hallowed walls of Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

The Orioles are off to a 6-4 start, including a win Tuesday against the Red Sox. They’re back in action Wednesday at Boston’s Fenway Park. When will Holliday join them? Here’s what you need to know.

Why did the Orioles call up Jackson Holliday?

Holliday has long been tipped for greatness, especially after racing through the minors in 2023. He added to the hype with a standout spring training campaign.

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But O’s general manager Mike Elias claimed that he wanted to see Holliday, who bats left-handed, show a little more consistency against top-level arms, specifically left-handed pitchers.

It didn’t take Holliday long to strut his stuff against southpaws. He hit .400 with a 1.264 OPS against lefties with the Tides this season. For what it’s worth, it was a very small sample size: he only faced southpaws in 11 plate appearances.

By calling up Holliday early in the season, the Orioles could be eligible to receive a first-round draft pick via the prospect promotion incentive, a mechanism which rewards teams for top prospects who reach a full year of service time and win Rookie of the Year honors. If Holliday remains on the Orioles for 172 days, he’ll attain a full year of service time.

Baltimore is familiar with the prospect promotion incentive process, having successfully acquired the No. 32 pick (and $2.84 million in bonus pool space) after giving Gunnar Henderson the reins at shortstop out of spring training in 2023.

If the Orioles instead had waited until late April or later to call up Holliday, they could have kept him from burning the first year of service time on his rookie contract. But if Holliday finished in the top two in Rookie of the Year voting, he would be awarded the full year of MLB service anyway, as Baseball America reported — so why not call him up now?

When will Jackson Holliday debut for Orioles?

Holliday is slated to join the team Wednesday as 6-4 Baltimore takes on 7-4 Red Sox at Fenway Park.

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While he might not make his debut on his first day with the club, expect him to slot in at second base for the Orioles. He’ll be replacing 2020 first round selection Jordan Westburg, who is hitting .194 so far.

Holliday is expected to build quite the partnership with Henderson — a rangy shortstop who sports an arm filled with fury.

Jackson Holliday contract status

Holliday agreed to a record deal for a high-schooler, inking a rookie contract with an $8.19 million signing bonus after being selected first overall in the 2022 draft.

During his introductory presser, Holliday expressed his desire to make it to the bigs in “two years or less,” per MLB.com’s Zachary Silver.

Mission accomplished.

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