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“It’s like a video game” – Baltimore Sun

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When the Orioles were last drafted in the Major League Baseball Draft, they chose the player they saw as the most promising prospect available and the one who had been the guiding force in their recovery in catcher Adli Ruchman.

Taking on the spot three years later, Oklahoma high school shortstop Jackson Holliday, Baltimore overtook this year’s award-winning player of the year, but got who they deem as such, as the organization believes it got a player who can be just as much of a difference maker. like Rutschman no matter what.

“It’s hard to explain what that means,” Holliday said. “Honestly, it’s like a video game. In every video game you play, you get to pick first, so it was kind of like that. Something that I will never forget and that is a real honor.

“I want to thank the Orioles for choosing me and I will work my hardest to make it to the big leagues and have a great career for them and their fans.”

Holliday, the son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, was considered one of the top picks in the draft, finishing second in the MLB Pipeline and third in Baseball America. But in his selection, the Orioles swept past Georgia high school outfielder Drew Jones, who was considered the best player in the class by both publications. Jones finished second overall behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Holliday did not know he would be selected as No. 1 until the public found out when his father received a call from agent Scott Boras and kept the news under wraps for the next minute.

“I’m just really happy for Jackson,” Matt Holliday told the MLB Network. “This has been his dream ever since he was old enough to have that goal.”

Holliday becomes the first high school player to be Baltimore’s first pick since Manny Machado in 2010. A left-handed forward, he showed improved strength and speed in his senior season at Stillwater High School. Following his father’s influence, Holliday has a terrific approach to the game and strong instincts as he set the national record for hits in a season, hoping he also inherited the power from his father.

In his 40-game senior season, the 18-year-old Holliday hit .685 with a .749 on-base percentage and a 1.392 miss percentage on 52 off-base hits, including 17 home runs, and added 30 interceptions. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Holliday was a relatively late candidate for the top spot. The club did not consider him for selection during staff meetings over the winter, but his improvements since then lead the organization to consider him as a potential player.

“The potential for him is huge,” Elias said. “This is a potential star who plays shortstop, hits in the middle of the order, and does it for a very long time. In some respects, I don’t know the ceiling was much higher than someone with that profile.”

Elias said Holliday’s escape caused “a fire alarm in the scouting industry”. District scouts Ken Guthrie and Jim Richardson followed before Elias traveled to Stillwater to see Holliday in three games and practice, to meet his generational family on the campus between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Holliday was the Orioles’ pick in a class littered with the sons of former major leaguers, and the children of Andrew Jones, Carl Crawford and Lou Collier also advanced to the first round. The Orioles selected Holliday from a group of five players that, without naming them, Elias confirmed, included Jones, Florida high school outfielder Elijah Green (fifth overall behind Washington) and Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee (eighth overall) behind Minnesota). Georgia High School second baseman Termarr Johnson, whom Pittsburgh placed fourth overall, was considered fifth.

With such a large group in mind, Elias admitted a week before the draft that it was doubtful that all decision makers at the Oriole would agree with one player. On Sunday, he said Holliday received a “yes” vote from decision makers, even if some preferred a different player.

“I think ‘consensus’ is the right word for this,” Elias said. “There was no consensus. This never happens. … But this was a player who was considered worthy of choice by all the participants.

“It was a very difficult decision in a good way. I would compare it to deciding what to order at a five-star restaurant.”

The first overall pick has a slot value just above $8.84 million, and while Holliday’s signing bonus isn’t expected to reach that figure, his pick doesn’t mean the Orioles will use the bottom slot strategy they’ve used in their previous two. Drafts. Holliday works in the state of Oklahoma, where his uncle Josh runs the program, his father works as an assistant, and his grandparents and great uncles formerly coached. He is also a client of Boras, the most famous sports agent who represented his father and uncle during their playing careers.

After college outfielders Heston Kjerstad finished second overall in 2020 and Colton Kauser fifth overall in 2021, the Orioles signed both to deals well below the cost of the slots for their draft positions. allowing Baltimore to spread those savings to other potential clients later in the draft. Even with a then-record $8.1 million bonus, Rutchman signed on with his slot value, and those savings mostly went to the second round pick of Gunnar Henderson, who has since become the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect and represented the highest draft this front office. high school student in front of Holliday.

The Orioles have a total bonus pool of nearly $17 million this year, second only to the 2015 Houston Astros. At the time, Elias was director of amateur scouting in Houston, and this is only the third time that his team has selected a high school player from among the top nine players he has played.

“I hope Jackson has a good chance to effectively get through the underage and join this group that we see,” Elias said. “I have seen high schoolers move as fast if not faster than college players. It just depends. All different. But it was a perspective that we wanted to add to our portfolio.”

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Elias had mixed success with his previous three first-round picks in Baltimore. Rutchman became the best player in baseball, he was considered the face of the Orioles’ recovery and the player who could turn their situation around. Baltimore has been a much more successful team since its promotion in late May, ending Sunday’s first half as a surprise playoff contender.

Kjerstad made his professional debut only two years after being drafted after being diagnosed with post-draft cardiac myocarditis and a left hamstring strain this spring. He was promoted to High-A Aberdeen last week after dominating younger pitchers from Low-A Delmarva.

In choosing him, Elias said that Kauser had the potential to rise quickly, and he proved that he did, despite some hardships along the way. Despite a high number of hits and misses during his time at Sam Houston, Kauser has already reached double level, allowing him to join the Orioles at some point in 2023.

Holliday is the latest addition to the collection of mid-level players Elias has amassed since taking over the front office, joining Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Terrin Vavra, Connor Norby, Cesar Prieto and others. In order to create the “elite talent pipeline” promised by Elias when it was first introduced, the Orioles system must be constantly updated, and Holliday’s selection marks the first of this year’s additions.

“When you’re a shortstop, it’s hard to get locked out,” Elias said.

The Orioles had three more picks on Sunday’s opening night draft pick. On either side of the 42nd overall selection to open the second round, they had a competitive balance pick – first their own at number 33, then the one they acquired from the Miami Marlins at number 67, as part of a comeback for Cole’s pitchers. Sulser and Tanner Scott.

Baltimore has the first pick in each subsequent round, from the 3rd to 10th rounds on Monday, until the close of the 10-round draft on Tuesday.


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