During what turned out to be Jackson Holliday’s final series as a major leaguer — at least for the moment — the infielder leaned back in a recliner inside the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium and watched himself on TV.

The MLB Network segment on the screen analyzed every little thing about his recent performances, and he watched stoically. Few 20-year-olds would be the center of attention in such a way, but Holliday is unlike most 20-year-olds. He’s the son of an All-Star player. He’s the No. 1 prospect in baseball, and when he was promoted in April to Baltimore, the fanfare included a T-shirt giveaway, frequent media interviews and game-by-game nitpicking on national television.

“It comes with a lot, being the No. 1 prospect, going up there and having all sorts of other stuff to deal with,” Holliday says now. “I don’t think that’s the reason I struggled, but it was a lot.”

In that recliner at Angel Stadium, Holliday watched as the segment broke down a series of at-bats that ended in outs. They noted his 18 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. They wondered when he’d turn things around. A few days later, on April 26, the Orioles optioned Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk only 10 games into his major league career.

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Holliday thinks he was close. He singled in his last game in the majors. But the powers that be in Baltimore decided Holliday’s struggles might do more harm than good, so they sent him to the Tides to reset.

Holliday said in an interview on Friday he understands that decision, even though the competitor in him wishes he could’ve turned the corner. Still, in the month since he returned to the minors, Holliday looks back on his 10 games as an Oriole with a silver lining.

“To be able to go up there and experience the 0-for, or 1-for-whatever, I don’t think there’s any bad takeaway from that,” Holliday said. “I think it’s all part of learning. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it can always be looked at as a good start to learning how to fail, because this game is the worst sometimes. To be able to go up there and fail at a high level, in the long run, I think will be very beneficial for me and my career.”

And the next time he arrives, Holliday hopes he’ll be with the Orioles for good.

He’s around enough prospects in Norfolk to realize it’s not unusual for a young player to return to the minors after an initial foray into baseball’s highest division. Holliday mentioned right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and outfielder Colton Cowser — both were optioned with a to-do list of adjustments, and both have returned to the majors as regular contributors.

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Holliday is around Heston Kjerstad, Terrin Vavra, Kyle Stowers. They’ve all been up and down, and the reminder makes Holliday’s recent demotion easier to swallow. Still, the reminder that he’s not alone doesn’t make him any less motivated to prove those 10 games as an aberration.

When Holliday first returned to Triple-A, he tinkered with his stance and his mechanics at the plate, searching for an answer. He crouched more, and while that came with the benefit of getting his legs more involved in his swing again, it was a departure from what has worked throughout his life to this point.

“At the beginning, I was trying to get a little bit more down in my legs and flatten my bat out a little bit, which I do think helped,” Holliday said. “But I didn’t feel like I was getting to the position I thought I needed to be in, so I’m standing back a little bit taller and have my hands a little bit lower now. Just trying to make a good, clean move and making sure I am in my legs, because that was part of it in the big leagues. I wasn’t getting into a position to fire out of. So, standing up a little taller, but still having my legs bent a little bit to be able to make that move efficient.”

Earlier, as he fiddled, Holliday felt he was “surviving” and “didn’t feel great” about where his swing was, even though he produced at the Triple-A level upon his return. That has since changed. Over the last two weeks, particularly, Holliday’s return to the mechanics he’s more familiar with has helped him get back on track.

Entering Sunday, Holliday posted a .965 on-base-plus-slugging percentage over his last 15 games, including 14 walks and 17 hits.

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“Staying in a more athletic position,” Holliday said. “That’s who I am. That’s the hitter I am, it’s what got me here, it’s what got me to the big leagues. I’m someone who is a little more upright and in an athletic position, and at the end of the day, I think that’s what’s going to get me back up to the big leagues.”

He knows, once he returns, all of the attention will return as well. The MLB Network segments analyzing his every move, the frequent pre- and postgame scrums with media members, the fan interest — it comes with the territory of being the No. 1 prospect.

Holliday’s performances in those 10 games didn’t live up to the hype, and he knows it. But his attitude? His even-keeled nature, even as he watched himself on TV in the visiting dugout of Angel Stadium? That stood the test of the major leagues.

“That was pretty much the worst-case scenario you can possibly imagine of getting called up, but I feel like I did handle it the best way that I could,” Holliday said. “I feel like I did a pretty good job of not letting that affect the way that I carried myself.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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