Orioles Inexplicably Leave Top Prospect Jackson Holliday Off Opening Day Roster

Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles made a massive mistake on Friday. The club announced they had reassigned Jackson Holliday to minor league camp, meaning he won't be on the roster for Opening Day. It's an inexplicable decision after the consensus top prospect in baseball had an outstanding spring training. There was no reason to leave the 20-year-old off the roster.

In 15 games this spring, the shortstop has slashed.311/.354./600, with two home runs, six RBIs and 14 hits in 45 at-bats. His .954 OPS is among the best on Baltimore's roster. He did everything Baltimore asked of him and still got sent down. In case you're thinking this might be a fluke, it isn't. Holliday traversed four levels of the minor leagues in 2023 and slashed .323/.442/.499 with 12 home runs, 75 RBIs, 30 doubles and 101 walks against 118 strikeouts. His .941 OPS lines up with what he did in spring training.

While reigning AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson is holding down the shortstop spot, Holliday could have easily taken what looks like a vacant second base job. And if not, the Orioles definitely could have found a spot for him.

Buster Olney took to Twitter on Friday and revealed that after polling MLB executives recently, more than half said the best baseball player under 23 was Holliday. Yet somehow the 20-year-old is starting the season in the minors.

The Orioles will almost certainly be accused of manipulating Holliday's service time to get an extra year of team control from him. This pretty clearly looks like a naked attempt to do so. While Baltimore is claiming Holliday is going down to get more time playing second base, that is a weak excuse. He's already excellent on the infield, a move to second wouldn't be difficult.

The Orioles made Holliday the No. 1 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and have pushed him aggressively though the system. Now that he's on the verge of making it to big leagues, they want to hit pause on that progress. It makes zero sense and it's wrong.