The Orioles selected high school shortstop Jackson Holliday with the first overall selection of the 2022 amateur draft. Holliday joins Adley Rutschman (2019) and Ben McDonald (1989) as players taken by the Orioles with the 1-1 pick, and he is the first high schooler taken first overall since the Twins drafted Royce Lewis in 2017.
Talent runs in the family, as Jackson is the son of longtime Cardinals and Rockies star Matt Holliday. Continuing the theme of family ties, the younger Holliday becomes only the second son of a former Major League player to be taken with the 1-1 selection — the first was Ken Griffey Jr. back in 1987.
Time will tell if Holliday can approach a Hall-of-Fame or All-Star level, but the 18-year-old is one of the more highly-touted members of the 2022 draft class. Fangraphs and MLB Pipeline each ranked Holliday as the second-best prospect of the class, with Kiley McDaniel and Baseball America each slotting Holliday third on their rankings, and The Athletic’s Keith Law rated Holliday sixth.
A left-handed hitter, Holliday has a smooth swing that generated a lot of hard contract and an increasing amount of power as his senior year progressed. Most evaluators give him at least plus grades across the board, and as Fangraphs’ scouting report puts it, Holliday “checks literally every box, and there aren’t many lefty-hitting shortstops with this kind of juice. He projects as an All-Star shortstop.” While not a defensive standout per se, Holliday’s instincts and throwing arm should allow him to remain at shortstop, though he would seem to have the athleticism to be tested at other positions if the Orioles wanted to experiment.
With Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg also in Baltimore’s system as blue-chip shortstop prospects, the O’s have built up some enviable depth at a key position on the diamond. The Orioles’ lengthy rebuild has brought quite a few top youngsters into the farm system, and perhaps the earliest impact is starting to be seen on the field in 2022, given the team’s surprising presence in the wild card race at the All-Star break.
Since Mike Elias took over the Orioles’ front office, the club has traditionally drafted college players early — Grayson Rodriguez (2018) is the only other prep first-rounder selected during Elias’ tenure. Signability has also been a factor for the O’s, who have often taken players slightly lower on projection boards, in an attempt to land players who would sign for under-slot deals.
That way, Baltimore has more bonus-pool space to spend on other quality picks later in the draft, and perhaps have flexibility to go over-slot to land premium talent at lower draft positions. The Orioles have a $16,924,000 bonus pool, and the first overall pick has an assigned slot value of $8,842,200.
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