Baltimore Orioles sign top pick Jackson Holliday to $8.19 million bonus

BALTIMORE — Jackson Holliday slipped into a Baltimore Orioles jersey, tucked the team’s cap over his long, sandy blond hair and grinned broadly as cameramen clicked away.

And boy did he have reason to smile. The 18-year-old high schooler and No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 amateur draft signed a contract Wednesday with an $8.19 million signing bonus.

A skilled fielding shortstop with a powerful swing from the left flank, Holliday is a son of former All-Star Matt Holliday. He’d only visited Camden Yards once before – many years ago shagging fly balls during batting practice while accompanying his father, who was then a fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.

If Jackson has his way, it won’t be long before he makes his return journey as a member of the Orioles.

“I want to be up here as soon as possible,” said Holliday. “I’d like to come out hot and keep playing well. Hopefully two years or less is my goal. I know it’s a big goal but I think I can do it.”

If his gene pool counts for something, maybe Holliday has a chance. Drafted in the seventh round of high school in 1998, Matt Holliday took six years to break through to the big leagues, but his experience and guidance can only help Jackson in his rise from the minor leagues.

“When you enter the professional baseball player pool, all the little things are the divider,” Matt Holliday said. “We were just talking about the work it takes, the sacrifices it takes to get where you want to be.”

Agent Scott Boras, who brokered the deal for Jackson, said, “It’s a rare library that the Holliday library gives Jackson and I can tell you he’s read all of the books.”

Holliday hit .685 with 29 doubles, six triples, 17 homers and 79 RBIs as a senior for Stillwater High in Oklahoma. He also stole 30 bases and hit 74 runs.

It all convinced Baltimore general manager Mike Elias to make Holliday — whom he described as a “five-tool shortstop” — the third top pick in Orioles history behind Ben McDonald (1989) and Adleyrutschman (2019). . The selection had a slot value of $8,846,900.

“This is an exciting and historic moment for this franchise and for Jackson personally,” said Elias. “I couldn’t be more confident and optimistic about Jackson Holliday and the Baltimore Orioles’ partnership.”

Holliday took batting practice with the Orioles before their game against Tampa Bay and then prepared for a trip to the team’s training complex in Sarasota, Fla.

“It’s been a bit since I’ve competed on the ballpark, so I’m really excited to get going and come to Florida,” said Holliday.

Perhaps one day Holliday will become the Orioles’ starting shortstop. That position was once held by another highly touted high school kid who was drafted by the Orioles and made it through to the majors: Cal Ripken, Jr.

“It’s an honor to be in this organization and to play a position that he has played for so long,” said Holliday. “I hope to come here and play shortstop for a very long time.” Baltimore Orioles sign top pick Jackson Holliday to $8.19 million bonus

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