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The Fantasy Baseball Buzz: It's a (Jackson) Holliday holiday!

A tidy internet search will tell you that April 10 is National Siblings Day. It's also National Encourage a Young Writer Day. And apparently, it's National Erase Self-Negativity Day, too. These are real things.

Ahh, forget all that. For anyone who's grinding the 2024 baseball season, April 10 is Jackson Holliday Day. The next big thing is here. The Orioles made the call, and the 20-year-old Holliday will make his big-league debut Wednesday in Boston.

If you've spent even a minute thinking about MLB prospects, you know Holliday's name by now. Baltimore made the shortstop the first overall pick in the 2022 Draft, and Holliday was the No. 1 prospect on everyone's scouting board entering 2024. Holliday raced through four levels of minor-league baseball last year, he hit in spring training last month, and his brief Triple-A stint this year was also a smash.

The bloodlines couldn't be better. Holliday's father, Matt, was a major-league batting champion and seven-time All-Star. Holliday's grandfather and uncle both have college coaching backgrounds. Holliday's younger brother, Ethan, is also a prospect of note. (I love that Holliday is from Stillwater, Oklahoma, even if his "Almost Famous" days are just about over.)

The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. (Banner by Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. (Banner by Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Understandably, Jackson Holliday grew up around the game. There are legendary stories about him taking batting practice in the backrooms of Coors Field at 3 years old, with Matt Holliday's teammates tabbing Jackson as a future star. Much of Jackson's childhood was spent around adults and professional athletes, which likely explains why everyone gushes over his maturity today.

We briefly mentioned Holliday's quick study in professional baseball; let's give you the hard numbers. Last year, he slashed .323/.442/.499 at four different levels, with 12 homers and 24 steals. His BB/K ratio was almost even; he walked 101 times and struck out a modest 118 times. Although he struck out 15 times in 45 spring at-bats, he still had a .954 OPS with two homers and two steals. Triple-A pitchers didn't get him out this month: .333/.482/.595, with two homers and more walks than strikeouts.

There was a partial outcry when Holliday didn't make the Orioles out of camp, but maybe they were looking out for the kid. Holliday is a left-handed swinger, and five of Baltimore's first 10 opponents used left-handed starters. Gaining a little Triple-A confidence never hurt anyone.

What should fantasy managers expect from Jackson Holliday?

Holliday was playing primarily second base at Triple-A this month, given that the Orioles have reigning Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson settled at shortstop. Some think Holliday is the better defensive shortstop prospect, but sometimes you defer to the incumbent. The Orioles probably will slot Holliday at second base, with Jordan Westburg sliding to third and the slumping Ramon Urias (2-for-22) headed to the bench.

There's no universal rule with young players and development curves. Mike Trout didn't hit much as a rookie (.220/.281/.390); he was a superstar a year later. Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 batters in his electric first start. Bryce Harper was very good as a 19-year-old rookie but not a true superstar until Year 4. Holliday's teammate, Adley Rutschman, might be the most valuable commodity in the American League at the moment, when you consider current value and future upside. He has a 128 OPS+ in his brief three-year career; he's great now and likely to get better.

Adley Rutschman headshot
Adley Rutschman
C - BAL - #35
2024 - false season
181
AB
.304
AVG
9
HR
1
SB
.834
OPS

However, the path to success is not always smooth or linear. The Tigers are still hoping that their early-pick collection of Casey Mize, Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Jackson Jobe and Max Clark develops into something to rival the Baltimore talent pipeline; so far, it has been a slow and deliberate climb for the Detroit kids. Austin Martin was Keith Law's No. 1 overall draft prospect in 2020; he hasn't materialized into anything yet. Tim Beckham, Mark Appel, Delmon Young and Mickey Moniak were all No. 1 overall picks in the 2000s — none of them developed into a star. Nothing is ever guaranteed in this game. Sometimes No. 1 picks don't even make the majors; anyone remember Brady Aiken?

Holliday's already rostered in 83% of Yahoo leagues, so there's not an actionable item to move on here — unless you're in a trading mood. Most of his managers drafted him with optimistic hopes, and now they'll sit back and watch. I have one Holliday share — in a keeper league, though we took him fairly early. We're not looking to trade him. We're dreaming big.

Of course, Holliday is surrounded by other budding young stars in this clubhouse, and he's not the only one we're excited about. If you want to join the Baltimore party, maybe Colton Cowser is of interest. He was the fifth overall pick in 2021, and he'll probably get a chance to play more, given the struggles of Austin Hays (2-for-26). Cowser had four RBI in Tuesday's win.

But while Cowser is an exciting prospect, Holliday is the exciting prospect. And while I mentioned Martin in passing, most No. 1 prospects from Law's board (or, truthfully, anyone's board) are often impact players quickly. Last year, Law had Corbin Carroll at No. 1 — that's a smash. Rutschman was the top guy in the previous year, another home run.

Holliday was outside the top 200 in Yahoo ADP for the spring draft season. If you're heading into a fresh draft this week, that price is going to jump significantly.

Enjoy your Holliday holiday. First pitch at Fenway Park is set for 7:10 pm ET.