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Norfolk Tides break camp with loaded roster, including No. 1 MLB prospect Jackson Holliday

NORFOLK — If the Norfolk Tides are looking to repeat as International League and Triple-A national champions, they’re already on the right track.

Three players on the club’s break-camp roster, released Tuesday by the parent Baltimore Orioles, are ranked among the Top 100 prospects in the game by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. No prospect is ranked higher than 20-year-old middle infielder Jackson Holliday, who will return to Norfolk after finishing last season with the Tides.

Infielder Coby Mayo, ranked No. 25 by Baseball America and No. 30 by MLB Pipeline, is expected to return. He’ll be joined by outfielder and first baseman Heston Kjerstad (No. 41/32), who made his major league debut last season.

When Holliday plays for Norfolk, it will mark the fourth straight season the Tides have fielded the top prospect in baseball: Adley Rutschman in 2021, Gunnar Henderson in ’22 and Holliday in ’23. Baseball America reported that the Orioles are the first organization since 1990 to have No. 1 prospects in three straight seasons.

Four others on the initial 2024 roster are listed among MLB.com’s Top 30 Orioles prospects: infielder Connor Norby (No. 7), right-hander Chayce McDermott (9), left-hander Cade Povich (10) and right-hander Justin Armbruester (21).

Fifteen of the 27 players on the break-camp roster played for Norfolk last season, helping the Tides to a 90-59 record and their first IL title since 1985. Included in that list is pitcher Garrett Stallings, a Chesapeake native and former Grassfield High star. They’ll play for third-year manager Buck Britton, a former Norfolk utilityman.

Holliday, primarily a shortstop, spent much of spring training learning to play second base. Orioles GM Mike Elias told reporters last week that the club wanted Holliday to get more reps at second while facing more left-handed pitching before he gets a shot in the big leagues.

The lefty-swinging Holliday, the son of former major league all-star Matt Holliday, batted .323 with 12 home runs and 75 RBIs in 125 games at four levels last season after being selected first overall in the 2022 draft.

Holliday and Mayo both homered in Norfolk’s decisive 7-0 win over Durham in the rubber game of the IL Championship Series last season. That came shortly after Holliday made news when he had trouble checking into a Norfolk hotel room.

The Tides open the season at 6:35 p.m. Friday against Durham at Harbor Park.

David Hall, david.hall@pilotonline.com.