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  • Writer's pictureGrant DeVivo

Jackson Holliday Headlines Orioles' Roster Cuts

Updated: Mar 23

No. 1 prospect amongst several Orioles prospects who did not make the Opening Day roster

*Cover Photo: Ulysses Munoz, The Baltimore Banner

Ok, this is not the most exciting blog post that I've written so far, and I know this will fire up some of you reading this. I regret to inform everyone that Jackson Holliday did not make the Orioles' Opening Day roster. Eventually, you will read that he was not the only promising young player who did not make the cut.

This move is most likely a service time strategy and the Orioles trying to get Holliday the full year's credit for service time, which according to is 172/187 days in a year. This would push his eligibility for free agency back to six years, thus keeping Holliday in Baltimore longer.

No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday will star the season at Triple-A Norfolk. Photo: Ulysses Munoz,The Baltimore Banner

If you remove that big elephant in the room, then you and I would agree that Holliday should have made the roster based on his performance in Spring Training. The 20-year-old, who is baseball's top prospect, went 14-for-46 (.311) in Spring Training. He collected 6 RBIs, posted a dazzling .954 OPS, and connected for two home runs, one of which was a towering grand slam off Blue Jays southpaw Yusei Kikuchi. Those are certainly better numbers than someone like Minor League signee Kolten Wong put up (.185 BA, .587 OPS). In addition, he just looked comfortable on the field. He looked confident with the bat, and he played a nice and fluent infield with some of the best players in baseball roaming around near or with him.

Holliday has the makings of a ready-to-go Major League player and he proved that in not just camp, but also the entire 2023 season. He hit .323 across all four levels of the Minor Leaues. Sadly, the service time benefits do play a huge factor in roster decisions for young guns like Holliday, just like it did with the Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant back in 2015. When it comes time, though, and when Holliday reaches the service time requirements, we should expect GM Mike Elias to give Holliday the call right away.

MLB's No. 32 prospect Heston Kjerstad will also begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk. Photo: Ulysses Munoz, The Baltimore Banner

Holliday is not the only one who received tough news today. Baseball's 30th best prospect, Coby Mayo, did not make the roster either and will join Holliday at the Minor League camp in Sarasota, Florida. Heston Kjerstad, Connor Norby, and Kyle Stowers failed to make the Opening Day roster as well, and they have been reassigned to Triple-A Norfolk. There is no word on Colton Cowser's status yet.

With all of these roster cuts happening just recently, this most likely means that either Ryan McKenna or Cowser will be the Orioles' fourth outfielder and that Tyler Nevin, Ramon Urias, and Wong will all serve as Major League infield depth options.

Kjerstad probably needs more reps at Triple-A. He struggled early on in Spring Training, going 3-for-22 in his first 9 games. Overall, he only posted a .580 OPS and collected just 3 RBIs. He will look to get back in tune at Norfolk and get more at-bats there before getting another MLB opportunity. This one makes sense, and I believe that this will benefit him greatly, just as Grayson Rodriguez's own demotion last year helped him. There is too much potential in Kjerstad.

Many fans are disappointed to see OF Kyle Stowers (center) return to the Minor Leagues. Photo John Topoleski

Seeing Stowers go back down, however, is disappointing. The former top prospect had a much better Spring Training many of the other outfield options including McKenna. Stowers hit .256 and put his power on full display, popping 7 home runs, collecting 14 RBIs, and slugging .744. Mckenna hit .147 with a .544 OPS. The perfect left-handed bat for the bench in this case is Stowers, but back to the minors he goes where he graduated two years ago.

Mayo's demotion is also surprising. Just days ago, I wrote a blog advocating for Mayo's call to the show. He played exculsively for the Orioles, appearing in 22 games. His bat never seemed to slow down, as the 6'5" power hitter hit .326 with 11 RBI and a .969 OPS. He, too, has little left to prove in the Minor Leagues as the Double-A Eastern League MVP smashed 29 home runs last year while hitting .290. The corner infield is crowded with names like Ryan Mountcastle, a red-hot Nevin, Ryan O'Hearn, and Jordan Westburg making it tough for Mayo to break through. However, should anything happen to any of these guys or should any player fail to perform to expectations, Mayo should be one of the first corner infield prospects that Elias calls upon. Not many people reaize yet how potent of a threat that Mayo can become offensively.

Don't attack the Nevin decision. To be fair, Nevin had a great Spring Training and earned another shot on the Orioles' big league roster. A key piece in the 2020 Mychal Givens trade, Nevin hit .205 in two previous seasons with the Orioles before spending the 2023 season with the Tigers organization. He was reunited with Birdland via trade shortly before Spring Training, and he exploded with a .348 BA, an .882 OPS, and 7 RBIs. Is he replaceable? Yes. Is he serviceable for the time being? Also yes.

Here is the good thing about baseball and the business aspect of it. These demotions are not permanent, and there are always opportunities down the road for all of these guys to get to or get back to the Major Leagues. So while today's news may seem frustrating, everyone relax and take a deep breath. I am going to do the same thing, as I almost had a panic attack writing this. Everything will be fine, and you will see most of (if not all) these names at some point this season. Mike Elias is a genius leader who dug the Orioles out of an impossible grave and got the organization back to the postseason at least two or more years ahead of schedule. I trust his process, and you should too.

Breathe. You will see Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo, Kyle Stowers, and everyone else at Oriole Park at Camden Yards soon enough. Be patient.

Other prospects who did not make the cut as announced last week include pitching prospects Justin Armbruester, Seth Johnson, and Chayce McDermott. Minor League signees, catcher David Banuelos and pitcher Albert Suarez, were also reassigned to Minor League camp.

Stay tuned for more transactions and news alerts going on at Spring Training regarding the Orioles' top prospects and Minor Leaguers.

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