Jackson Holliday fails to make Orioles Opening Day roster, despite strong spring

The Orioles will begin the 2024 campaign without their top prospect.

Mar 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Baltimore Orioles shortstop Jackson Holliday (87) looks on first
Mar 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Jackson Holliday (87) looks on first / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

After years of rebuilding, the Baltimore Orioles finally broke through last season, winning 101 games and clinching the AL East. Baltimore had a disappointing showing in the postseason but with such a young roster and tremendous talent in the pipeline, the Orioles look like contenders not only now, but for years to come.

Baltimore showed they were serious about winning now by pulling off a major offseason blockbuster, acquiring Corbin Burnes from the Brewers. Even with Burnes being an expiring contract, GM Mike Elias showed he's all in for 2024.

That's what makes Baltimore's latest decision regarding top prospect Jackson Holliday that much more puzzling. The O's announced that Holliday, despite a strong Spring Training, did not make the team's Opening Day roster. That comes as a surprise, as the 20-year-old looks quite ready.

Orioles make disappointing decision to leave Jackson Holliday off the team's Opening Day roster

It looked as if Holliday had a clear opening to begin the season as the team's starting second baseman thanks to his strong spring. Holliday is slashing .311/.354/.600 with two home runs and six RBI in 45 at-bats.

This kind of performance following his .941 OPS season in 2023 made it seem as if he is MLB-ready. For whatever reason, the Orioles felt a different way.

There's a good chance that this is service time-related. By keeping Holliday down in the minors for the first couple of weeks of the season, the Orioles would gain an extra year of service. It's unfortunate, but not uncommon to see teams keep star prospects down in order to gain that extra year.

The defending champion Texas Rangers are going to carry their top prospect, Wyatt Langford, on their Opening Day roster despite the fact that he was just drafted in 2023. They're committed to carrying the top 26 players on their roster no matter what. The Orioles are showing that they're not quite there by omitting Holliday.

Fortunately, Holliday shouldn't be down in the minors for too long as he's clearly MLB-ready, but there's definitely disappointment seeing a player who deserves to be up now, getting sent down for reasons completely unrelated to performance.