As of this week, the top prospect in all of baseball will be playing for the Norfolk Tides. The Orioles are reportedly sending the 2022 #1 overall pick, Jackson Holliday, to Triple-A starting this week, MASN’s Steve Melewski first reported on Sunday night. The 19-year-old is now just one rung of the ladder away from MLB after posting a .338/.421/.507 batting line across 36 games at Double-A Bowie.
In addition to Holliday’s promotion, the Orioles are getting some other recent draft picks a little September action at a higher minor league level. Melewski also reported on Sunday that 2023 first rounder Enrique Bradfield Jr., as well as fellow 2023 O’s draft picks Mac Horvath and Matthew Etzel, are moving up from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen for the remainder of the minor league seasons.
What Holliday has done this year is simply incredible. After he plays his first game for Norfolk, he will have played at four different minor league levels over the course of this season.
At every one of those levels, Holliday has looked like he’s more advanced than the competition. It took just 14 games to send him from Delmarva to Aberdeen, 57 games to go from there to Bowie, and now another 36 to get the Norfolk promotion. He’s batted at least .300, had at least a .400 on-base percentage, and slugged at least .500 all while recording just two plate appearances against any pitcher younger than himself. It’s really something.
There are 18 Norfolk Tides games remaining this season, plus a best-of-three playoff series. Could that possibly be enough for Holliday to help get the Orioles thinking through the offseason that he needs to be on the Opening Day roster next season? That will be interesting to keep an eye on over the next three weeks. If he cruises through a few weeks in the highest minor league level the same as he’s done at every other stop, they’ve got to at least think about it.
The 2023 picks getting a taste of the High-A level as that season winds down is also nice to see. Bradfield has been an on-base and stolen base machine, posting a .494 OBP with 20 steals in 17 games. That comes along with just two extra-base hits and no pro homers yet.
Horvath, the O’s second round pick from North Carolina, has hit .308/.422/.500 against Carolina League competition since being drafted. The 10th round pick Etzel has also excelled, batting .314/.444/.486 with the Shorebirds and stealing 16 bases himself.
This is only a one-week promotion for the guys headed to Aberdeen, because the IronBirds season is over on Sept. 10. They’re effectively eliminated from the South Atlantic League postseason, although it’s not official yet. Even if it’s just a little appreciation to them for a job well done, it’s nice that they can get their feet wet a little bit at this level before getting rolling there to start the 2024 season. We know from the Holliday example that if guys are dominating, the O’s will keep them moving until they hit a challenge.