Sports stats

 Worcester Red Sox

WooSox Welcome Norfolk Tides for Six-Game Homestand

May 21, 2024 - International League (IL)
Worcester Red Sox News Release

On Tuesday, May 21, the WooSox will welcome Jackson Holliday and the reigning Triple-A champion Norfolk Tides to Polar Park for a six-game set. The series will wrap-up the WooSox 12 game homestand--and is sure to bring plenty of buzz to the ballpark.

Holliday, who is ranked as the top prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, is the son of seven-time All-Star and 2011 World Series champion, Matt Holliday. The former big league outfielder played 15 seasons in MLB, spending the majority of his career with the Rockies and Cardinals.

Jackson, who is the eldest of four children, is following in his father's footsteps by playing professional baseball--with a promising career ahead. Drafted 1st overall by the Baltimore Orioles out of Stillwater High School in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Holliday soared through the minor leagues and earned his first call-up on April 10, 2024. The 20-year-old, though, did not fare well in his first taste of big league action; the infielder struggled mightily, picking up just two hits in 34 at-bats with 18 strikeouts. His first 10 games were uncharacteristic for a player who is regarded to have elite plate discipline and excellent bat-to-ball skills. Hoping to get him back on track, the Orioles optioned Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, April 26.

Since his demotion, Holliday is slashing .244/.398/.385 with 18 runs scored and a .783 OPS.

While Holliday garners most of the attention, the Tides are filled with some of baseball's top prospects. Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad (KERR-stad) are ranked as baseball's 21st and 23rd best prospects, respectively. The two are highly regarded hitters who figure to be fixtures of the Orioles' future.

Born in Coral Springs, Florida, Mayo was committed to play baseball at the University of Florida before the Orioles selected him in the 4th round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Signing him for a well-over slot bonus of $1.75 million, the Orioles believed in Mayo's potential as a middle-of-the-order bat.

Standing 6'5" with massive power potential, Mayo has hit at every minor league level. For his career, the 22-year-old is hitting .281/.381/.535 and is coming off a year where he had 29 home runs and 45 doubles. This season, he has been a cog in the middle of the Tides lineup, leading the team with 13 homers.

While the corner infielder's power bat and tendency to strikeout profiles him more as a first basemen, Mayo has one of the strongest arms in the minor leagues. With the ability to throw the ball in the mid-90s across the diamond, Mayo's cannon could keep him at the hot corner long term.

Like Mayo, Kjerstad is known for his bat, which got him selected as the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. During his time at the University of Arkansas, the outfielder clobbered 37 home runs while batting .343 in 150 games. Kjerstad has continued this type of production throughout the minor leagues and earned his first promotion to Baltimore on April 23.

Kjerstad, though, followed a similar fate as Holliday in his first glimpse of the big leagues. In sporadic playing time, the 25-year-old had just two hits in 14 at-bats before being optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. Kjerstad will join Holliday and Mayo in Worcester this week.

Rounding out the Tides, who possess a Triple-A leading .835 OPS as a team, are Connor Norby and Billy Cook. Both players have the ability to play multiple positions and would likely fill utility roles if they find themselves on a big league roster in the future.

On the pitching side, Chase McDermott and Cade Povich are the two leading arms on Norfolk's staff. Ranked as the 8th and 9th best prospects in the Orioles' farm system, respectively, both project to be back-of-the-rotation starters at the big league level.

Barring anything unexpected, McDermott and Povich will pitch this week in Worcester. The Tides exact pitching schedule, though, has not yet been revealed.

Coming into the six-game series, the Tides sit a game ahead of the WooSox in the International League East standings. Nevertheless, the WooSox will have to be firing on all cylinders to make up ground on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, who lead the International League East division. While Norfolk is just a game over .500, the team holds enough firepower to make this a must-see series at Polar Park.

• Discuss this story on the International League message board...

International League Stories from May 21, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

OurSports Central