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Orioles' top prospect Jackson Holliday not on opening day roster. GM Mike Elias explains why

Baltimore Orioles select Jackson Holliday with first overall pick in MLB Draft
Baltimore Orioles select Jackson Holliday with first overall pick in MLB Draft 01:13

BALTIMORE - It felt inevitable that baseball's No. 1 prospect Jackson Holliday was destined to make the Baltimore Orioles' opening day roster.

Then, General Manager Mike Elias threw a curveball.

Instead of being announced to the crowd at Camden Yards on Thursday, Jackson will begin this season at Triple-A Norfolk.

Elias explained his reasoning.

"This is about an organization that prides itself on developing elite talents, putting a player in the best position for his own long-term success and for the short- and long-term success of the team and the roster that he's on," Elias told "This is a 20-year-old that has played 18 games in Triple-A and is also in a position change and has not faced or had the opportunity to produce a ton against upper-level Minor League left-handed pitching in particular. This is where we've landed for now."

Holliday, who was drafted first overall in 2022 as a shortstop, spent most of spring training at second base.

In 15 spring training games, he hit .311 with two home runs, three doubles, two triples and six RBIs. He did, however, strikeout 15 times.

It's likely Holliday won't last too long in Norfolk, but in the meantime, it appears Jordan Westburg will hold that position.

"He's very, very close," Elias said about Holliday. "He's very ahead of schedule. He's done remarkably well. We couldn't be more excited about his future. But you're talking about the development of a player who has the opportunity to be one of the better, if not best, players in the league."

Holliday surged through the Orioles' minor league system in 2023, ending the season with Norfolk. In 18 games with the Tides, he batted .267 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

He batted .338 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 36 games at Double-A Bowie BaySox.

"He's done nothing but perform and work and improve and be a sponge," Elias said. "I think all of these guys were disappointed by the news (that he wasn't on the opening day roster), but he's a worker and he knows how close he is and what he can do to polish off his development, and he's not somebody I would want to bet against tackling any challenge head on."

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