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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

A Happy Holliday in Clearwater

Jackson Holliday headlines the Orioles’ 3-2 win


The Orioles improved to double-digit wins today and now hold a 10-2 Grapefruit League record after beating the Phillies 3-2. Much of today’s win was propelled by not just any young talent, but young talent fighting hard to make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster.


Jackson Holliday led the charge with a big day at the plate in four at-bats. Here is a look at how Holliday did today as well as some other prospects and non-roster invites who stood out in today’s victory over the Phils.

 

Baseball's top prospect Jackson Holliday had a 3-for-4 day today. Photo: John Topoleski

Baseball’s top prospect, who many highly anticipate being in the Opening Day lineup, has been heating up lately in Spring Training. The 20-year old was originally off to a rough start, going just 4-for-17 (.235) with 6 strikeouts in his first 6 games of action. Perhaps, he has shaken all the nerves out, as he went crazy today with a 3-for-4 effort. His first at-bat ended in him taking a 2-strike cutter to the right-center gap for a 104 MPH double off 2021 All-Star Zack Wheeler. It certainly was a Happy Holliday today!


Holliday seemed very comfortable at the plate today, as he found his timing against Wheeler, one of baseball’s best starters, and put some good swings on Phillies pitching today. The triple that he had in his second at-bat was on a deep fly ball to centerfield in which Holliday’s swing looked very balanced with great hand control. This is very encouraging to see especially after some early struggles. It appears that Holliday may be heating up and if he keeps hitting like he did today, swinging comfortably and piecing up big time arms, then expect to see the phenomenon in Brandon Hyde’s Opening Day lineup.


Cowser, the Orioles’ Number 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline's updated rankings, is a great opposite field hitter and he used the left side of the field to his advantage today. He slapped a soft RBI single in his first at-bat off of Wheeler, then proceeded to fly out deep in front of the left field warning track his second at bat. Overall on the day, Cowser went 2-for-4 with that RBI. He is now hitting an even .400 with a ridiculous 1.550 OPS.


As I have previously mentioned and will continue to monitor here, Cowser is in the middle of a crowded battle for the Orioles’ fourth outfield spot. The struggles he experienced in the big leagues in 2023, when he hit just .115, are almost forgotten about when you see him swig the bat early on in camp. Cowser looks very confident at the plate as he remains selective, only going after what he wants, and patient as he continues to constantly find himself on base. Though camp is far from over, the 5th overall pick of the 2021 draft seems to e the early favorite to claim that reserve/platoon outfield spot.


The Orioles handed the ball to non-roster invite Albert Suarez to start the game today. In return, the righty tossed three scoreless innings. Seven of his nine outs were via the punchout, he allowed just two hits, and he walked non. His 4-seam fastball sat around 95-97 MPH with good command of the zone, and he featured a very nice 90 MPH cutter that he kept spotting on the corners. His slider got away from him a lot, but that is a mook point given how well he mixed everything else in.


Suarez is not particularly young like many of his fellow non-roster invites. He is a 34-year-old out of Venezuela and has not seen the Major Leagues since 2017, when he suited up for the San Francisco Giants. Since then he has bounced around with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate (one lone season in 2018) and has appeared in both Japanese and Korean professional baseball where he has posted incredible numbers (3.00 ERA in Japan, 3.04 ERA in Korea). Last December, the Orioles got him on a Minor League deal and invited him to Spring Training. After today’s outing versus the Phillies where it looked like he had complete command of the zone and efficiency, perhaps this is a dark horse candidate to fill in as a starter until Kyle Bradish and John Means come back. Suarez looked incredible today.


You have seen him on Learning To Fly before and after today’s outing, you are going to see him again! In his second outing of the spring, McDermott got 2 innings of relief against the Phillies, relieving southpaw Matt Krook for the 7th and 8th innings. The Phillies could only

muster 2 hits out of McDermott, who proceeded to throw two shutout innings while striking out two and walking non. He displayed a little bit of everything today from a 97 MPH fastball to a mid-80s changeup to a sharp cutter to that big, late-breaking high-70s curveball.


In 3.1 innings now, he has yet to allow a run.


Orioles No. 9 prospect Chayce McDermot threw two scoreless innings today. Photo: John Topoleski

It is a great start for the 25-year-old from Anderson, Indiana. This Spring Training means a lot to McDermott, the Orioles’ 9th best prospect. With Bradish and Means down, many arms in camp know that there could be an opportunity awaiting them in the starting rotation to start the season. McDermott is one of them, and he is looking to prove what he is capable of at the big league level as soon as possible.


Read more about McDermott’s story here.

 

Tomorrow

The evening skies will settle above Ed Smith Stadium tomorrow evening as the Orioles and Bucs will do battle once again with first pitch at 6:05 pm. Non-roster invite and 2x MLB All-Star Julio Teheran will get the start against recently extended Pirates ace Mitch Keller. Teheran threw a scoreless inning versus the Yankees on Saturday and will be making his first start of Spring Training tomorrow.

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