Jackson Holliday

Stillwater High's Jackson Holliday connects with a pitch during the first game of a district doubleheader against Muskogee in March 2022.

STILLWATER, Okla. — The wait is over.

For months, baseball analysts and fans have tried to predict where Stillwater shortstop Jackson Holliday would land among the earliest-selected players in the 2022 MLB Draft.

Sunday night, the answer became clear: Holliday is No. 1.

With the first overall pick, the Baltimore Orioles chose Holliday, whose 89 hits during his senior season set a national prep baseball record.

Holliday's draft standing allowed him to make history again.

In 2021, Heritage Hall pitcher Jackson Jobe became the highest-drafted Oklahoma player out of high school when the Detroit Tigers selected him with the third pick, according to James Jackson of The Oklahoman.

This means Holliday is the first Oklahoma prep player to be selected No. 1 in the MLB Draft out of high school. 

Although Holliday, an Oklahoma State signee, has not announced whether he will play for the Cowboys or start his professional career, the draft has presented him with a rare opportunity that would be difficult to turn down.

"It is an absolute honor to be the No. 1 pick and to join such great players in that position," Holliday said on the MLB Network broadcast. "And I'm really, really excited."

While several high-level prospects attended the draft in Los Angeles, Holliday watched from home. The MLB Network broadcast showed a big grin spreading across Holliday's face as he sat on a couch with loved ones surrounding him and heard his name called.

Stillwater baseball coach Jimmy Harris told the News Press he watched the beginning of the draft at a fellow coach's house before visiting the Hollidays. Harris celebrated with Jackson's parents, Matt and Leslee Holliday, and embraced Jackson, asking him about the moment when he realized the Orioles had picked him.

"The first thing I asked him was, 'When did you know?'" Harris said. "And he said, 'I didn't know.' And Matt knew 10 seconds before they called the name, so it turned out to be a pretty cool deal that was kind of a surprise for everybody."

On Twitter, the Baltimore Orioles shared a video of general manager Mike Elias calling Holliday.

"Congratulations, man," Elias said. "I heard you guys from Stillwater, Oklahoma, like orange and black; is that right? Well, good. We know those colors look pretty good on you, so I'm sure it will work very well. Enjoy the rest of the night, say hi to your family and we look forward to getting you down here, OK?"

Next to Holliday was his father, Matt, who has plenty of familiarity with the draft process. The Colorado Rockies selected Matt out of Stillwater High School in the seventh round of the 1998 MLB Draft, setting him up for major-league stardom. Now, at age 18, Jackson has his turn to embark on a path into the big leagues.

"This has been his dream for as long as he's been old enough to have this goal," Matt said on the MLB broadcast. "This has been his goal, to be a first-round pick, and for him to get a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick is an incredible honor. We're thrilled for him as (a) family." 

Harris said the watch party also included OSU football coach Mike Gundy, who has watched his son Gage play baseball alongside Jackson. Gundy commented on Harris' "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to coach a No. 1 pick, Harris said.

Harris mentioned Holliday's maturity as one of the factors that make him worthy of his selection.

"He's dedicated his life to baseball, and that's what he's gonna do," Harris said.

As a senior at Stillwater High, Jackson – who bats left-handed and throws right-handed – had a .685 batting average and a .749 on-base percentage with 17 home runs. He has collected multiple prestigious awards, including Baseball America College Player of the Year, Perfect Game USA National Player of the Year and Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year.

"He's not just a good hitter, or a good fielder or a good runner," Harris said. "He's a combination of all of that stuff, along with a guy that knows how to carry himself."

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Hart writes for CNHI News LLC.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for News & Eagle Sports? Send an email to rbecker@enidnews.com.

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