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The Year of Holloway

Holloway possesses some of the nastiest stuff in the Marlins organization.

Miami Marlins Photo Day Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Year of Holloway. Got a nice ring to it, huh?!

This is a big season for Jordan Holloway. That much is clear.

Holloway’s potential is immense as he boasts an arsenal (fastball, changeup, curve combo with velocities of 94-99, 89-90, and 80-82 respectively) many players would dream of. Oh wait, did I mention he has excellent measurables, too? Holloway stands at 6’6”, 220 pounds. With all of these positives, he struggled in two key areas: health and consistency. He’s just now beginning to show what can be as he pushes past those two obstacles.

In this season preview, we will look at Jordan’s past, present, and the changes for the future that could possibly impact a breakout season for the young hurler.

Late-round MLB Draft picks are all about projection and potential. Fittingly, Jordan was drafted by the Marlins as a 20th round pick in the 2014 draft. The risk has always been his ability to turn potential into productivity.

High school arms with shaky deliveries are always a challenging puzzle to decipher. The Marlins took the risk and upon seeing him initially it was evident there was much work to be done. He struggled significantly in 2014 but bounced back in 2015 ever so slightly with command still being an enormous issue. This led to high extremely high walk rates (14% and 13% in 2015 and 2016 respectively). And then it hit: Tommy John surgery. He underwent the procedure in the summer of 2017 and would be sidelined through the end of the 2018 regular season. This event turned out to be a blessing—he had a chance to redesign his delivery and his velocity went from good to great.

Holloway’s results improved. The flashes shown this past season were amazing. During the first half of 2019, he held hitters to a .160 BAA while averaging more than a K per inning. That flipped tremendously as hitters adjusted and hit him at a .268 clip during the second half of the season. His GB% sat at 50% for the season and the LD% was at just above 20%. He avoids contact with an extreme amount of walks. The unique part is that guys don’t hit him tremendously hard, but the fact that runners are on base often turns those low-impact hits into high-reward outcomes.

When it comes down to it, Jordan Holloway might be the only thing stopping Jordan Holloway from optimizing his potential.

When you watch the video above, it is apparent that you are viewing a talented pitcher. Talent in itself is not enough at this point in the Marlins rebuild—production is necessary for Holloway to distinguish himself from other highly touted arms. On his journey to getting better, there are two key areas of improvement that could make his talent explode and convert to production on a more consistent level.

Range of Motion/Flexibility

Holloway has huge flexibility issues. When observing his delivery, it is clear that he doesn’t sink into his back leg to initiate a “slide” (a downward trajectory towards the plate) in his delivery to promote extension. This doesn’t allow him to optimize velocity and control. This makes him noticeably upright throughout his delivery instead of getting lower and more downhill. This issue also brings to light how much stress he puts on his arm and limits his consistency. On the bright side, there may be more velocity within his delivery should he make that adjustment.

If he can further incorporate his lower half and optimize flexibility—through exercises like yoga—he could resolve this problem. Just any yoga type is not enough. It must consist of particular exercises centered on optimizing the flexibility between the core and the lower half. This is where gains could be made.

Hiding the Ball

Holloway tends to show the ball for a long time throughout his delivery.

When you observe these at-bats, Nick Plummer seems very comfortable in the box against extreme velocity. This is likely tied to his ability to track the ball for a long time as he can identify pitch types by watching the ball come out. Keeping the ball concealed as long as possible is very important for an extreme velocity pitcher. Hitters look for any tips to discern pitch types and this is a common measure. With his control issues at the forefront, hitters are able to identify which pitches to attack and lay off pitches that won’t be strikes. This puts more pressure on him from at-bat to at-bat.

Jordan Holloway has tons of intrigue and the last month of the 2019 season showed very strong signs that a change is coming. He pitched to the tune of 18 hits and a 20:4 K:BB ratio in 24 innings during August last season. If he can keep progressing in this fashion and make the recommended adjustments, he could become a huge asset to an organization that needs frontline starter pitching talent. Keep in mind that he is turning 24 this June and will just be hitting Double-A—the time is now for Holloway to show and prove he has what it takes to impact the franchise in a big way.

Look for him to possibly make his major league debut in 2020 as a September call-up, getting his feet wet out of the Marlins bullpen.