3 Orioles that could keep Jackson Holiday from making the Opening Day roster

There is belief growing around baseball that Jackson Holiday, the game's top prospect, could make Baltimore's Opening Day roster at just 20 years old.

Feb 23, 2023; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holiday (87) poses for a photo
Feb 23, 2023; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holiday (87) poses for a photo / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Jackson Holiday is universally recognized in the baseball world as an elite prospect with serious potential to become one of the game's best players quickly. The first overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft has made tremendous strides throughout his first two years playing minor league ball, so much so that there is already reason to believe he is legitimately in the running to make Baltimore's Opening Day roster. 

In 20 games in 2022 (primarily playing in A ball), Holiday slashed .297/.489/.422, hit one home run and stole four bases. In 2023, playing in 125 games divided through A, A+, AA, and AAA, Holiday improved in almost every aspect of his game and put up extraordinary numbers. He slashed .323/.422/.499, hit 12 home runs and swiped 24 bags. He also had a 0.86 walk-to-strikeout rate (BB/K). 

Holiday has made it clear through his actions and his words that he thinks he is ready and wants to be given the chance now to join the big league roster come opening day. After showcasing his ability to the fullest through the past two minor league seasons, Holiday said, “I’m as ready as I can be, I think,” when asked by reporters last Saturday.

I personally believe that Holiday is ready and will earn a spot on the Opening Day roster; however, management will closely examine his every movement this spring (you never want to prematurely put too much weight on a prospect's shoulders). Here are three other players fighting for a roster spot and could edge out Holiday to start the season: 

All statistics used in this article were taken from FanGraphs.com

1. Hestod Kjersted, OF

Heston Kjersted, to me, is the most likely of the three mentioned candidates to make the Oriole's Opening Day roster over Jackson Holiday. Kjersted is the 32nd-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, and has been a highly touted prospect since his college days at Arkansas. Kjersted was called up to the major leagues near the end of last season and slashed .233/.281/.467 in 32 total plate appearances. 

That slash line may not scream major league worthy, but the advanced analytics support that Kjersted was an above-average hitter, albeit in a very limited sample time. During his time spent in the majors, Kjersted showed off his high-power potential. His Isolated Power (ISO, a statistic that helps measure a player’s raw power by highlighting how often a player hits for extra bases) was .233, which falls into the tier of ‘excellent.’ He also had a weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) of .318, which shows that, based on the balls he put in play and the defenses he faced, he was unlucky and should have a much better slash line. 

Kjersted is not a particularly good fielder, so keep an eye out on whether or not he improves there: that could also have a say as to whether or not he makes the team come Opening Day, as Holiday is a plus defensive player.