Jonathan Schoop came into Spring Training with an outside chance to be the Baltimore Orioles’ starting second basemen come Opening Day. Coming into Spring Training, Ryan Flaherty was the favorite to win the job; but now, midway through Spring Training, Schoop is making the decision very tough for Buck Showalter and the rest of the Orioles’ coaching staff.
Schoop has long been considered a top-prospect in Baltimore’s organization since the Orioles signed him in 2008. He is now making a serious case for himself to be the Orioles’ everyday second baseman.
In his minor league career, Schoop has impressed despite battling injuries. In 2011, Schoop had his best year statistically speaking. That year, he hit 13 homers and drove 71 runs in while batting .290 in 511 at-bats. In 2013, the 22-year-old blasted 14 home runs and drove in 52 runs despite missing about six weeks with a stress fracture in his back. After spending only four seasons in the minor leagues, Schoop worked his way up to AAA-Norfolk last year and eventually played in Baltimore during September. Schoop’s quick climb through the Orioles’ farm system implies that he has nothing more to prove at the minor league level.
So far this spring, the young second baseman has boasted impressive numbers. In 20 at-bats so far, Schoop has a slash-line of .450/.500/.750, along with one home run and five runs batted in. In comparison, Flaherty, his main competition, has hit .286/.344/.464 with one home run and three runs batted in, in 28 at-bats. While Flaherty’s numbers have been good, he doesn’t have the upside that Schoop does.
Schoop is without a doubt the future at second base for the Orioles. While he may experience ups and downs at the major league level, Flaherty has already proven to be inconsistent at the major league level. At times last season, Flaherty looked like Mickey Mantle at the plate and at other times he looked like Mario Mendoza.
So, let me ask you this, what are the Orioles really losing by making it Schoop’s job to lose?