Jackson Holliday slipped on a Baltimore Orioles jersey, jammed the team's cap over his long, sandy blond hair and grinned broadly as the cameramen clicked away.
And boy, did he have reason to smile. The 18-year-old high schooler and No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 amateur draft signed a contract Wednesday with an $8.19 million signing bonus.
Holliday, a slick fielding shortstop with a potent swing from the left side, is a son of former All-Star Matt Holliday. He had visited Camden Yards only once previously — many years ago, he shagged fly balls during batting practice while accompanied his father, then an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.
If Jackson has his way, it won't be long before he makes a return trip as a member of the Orioles.
“I want to be up here as fast as possible,” Holliday said. “I would love to come out hot and continue to play well. Hopefully, two years or less would be my goal. I know it's a big goal, but I think I can do it.”
If his gene pool counts for something, then Holliday just might have a shot. Matt Holliday was drafted in the seventh round out of high school in 1998 and needed six years to make the rise to the big leagues, but his experience and guidance can only help Jackson in his ascent from the minor leagues.
“When you enter into the professional baseball pool of players, the separator is all the little things," Matt Holliday said. "We just talked about the work that it takes, the sacrifice that it takes to get to where you want to go.”
Agent Scott Boras, who negotiated the deal for Jackson, said, “It's a rare library that the Holliday library gives Jackson, and I can tell you he's read all the books.”
Holliday batted .685 with 29 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs and 79 RBIs as a senior for Stillwater High in Oklahoma. He also stole 30 bases and scored 74 runs.
All that convinced Baltimore general manager Mike Elias to make Holliday — whom he labeled a “five-tool shortstop” — the third top overall pick in Orioles history behind Ben McDonald (1989) and Adley Rutschman (2019). The pick had a slot value of $8,846,900.
“This is a exciting and historic moment for this franchise and for Jackson personally,” Elias said. “I couldn't be more confident and more optimistic about the partnership of Jackson Holliday and the Baltimore Orioles.”
Holliday took batting practice with the Orioles before their game against Tampa Bay, then prepared for a trip to the team's training complex in Sarasota, Florida.
“It's been a little bit since I've been able to compete on the baseball field, so I'm very excited to get going and get down there to Florida,” Holliday said.
Perhaps one day soon Holliday will become the starting shortstop of the Orioles. That position was once manned by another highly touted high school kid drafted by the Orioles who made it all the way to the majors: Cal Ripken, Jr.
“It's an honor to be in this organization and to play a position that he played for so long,” Holliday said. “I hope that I can get here and play shortstop for a very long time.”