There are many reasons for O's fans to be excited about Jonathan Schoop. He just may be the club's opening day second baseman and is sure stating his case with his strong spring.
Beyond that, Schoop is from Curacao and the Orioles have produced few international players that made the majors, but the club is clearly getting better on that front. Also, Schoop first played for the club in the 2009 Dominican Summer League and has made all the stops along the way. He's gone from the DSL to the Gulf Coast League, Bluefield (when it was an O's affiliate), Delmarva, Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk.
That is a lot of coaches, managers and upper minor league management that have had a hand in the kid's success and Schoop deserves a ton of credit himself for getting to this point in his development.
Will Schoop start the year with the club? That's anyone's guess, but the O's will likely face some lefties early in the year. Of course, we are talking about pitchers like Jon Lester, CC Sabathia, David Price, Matt Moore and Mark Buehrle - not just any run-of-the-mill lefties.
Schoop hit just .211 with an OPS of .639 against left pitchers last season at Triple-A. Some of that might be chalked up to his back injury. In 2012 in Double-A, he hit .308 with a .500 slugging percentage and .899 OPS against southpaws.
Schoop still could use some work hitting off-speed pitches, but that is true for many young players and some that are not young. He is close to ready, if not ready now.
The Orioles acquired infielder David Adams on a waiver claim last night and it's unclear right now whether that addition impacts or has any trickle-down impact for Schoop.
Decision day on Schoop is coming for the Orioles. If and when he has success at the big league level, Schoop will get much-deserved props. But that day will also be a success for the O's farm system, too.
Speaking of the farm, right-hander Mike Wright was the Orioles' 2013 minor league Pitcher of the Year after going 11-3 with a 3.26 ERA for Double-A Bowie. After the All-Star break last season, Wright went 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA in nine Bowie starts with eight walks and 51 strikeouts over 55 innings.
He is expected to begin the year in Triple-A Norfolk's rotation and now is just one step away from the majors.
"Yeah, it's exciting and so is every year," Wright said. "I get to play baseball for a living. If I'm in Triple-A, that's one step away and that is exciting. Going to be a good season."
Wright has worked this spring on adding a second changeup, something Kevin Gausman did last season. Wright has tinkered with a different grip on the pitch.
"I'm still working with it. It feels decent right now, but you never know. Always trying to get better," he told me recently at Twin Lakes Park after a start where he pitched two scoreless innings.
"I talked to (Kevin) Gausman about it. He does the same thing, throws a straight change and a split-change. We tossed it around a little in big league camp. They went well (in the game). I fooled a guy with it and he fouled it off. Felt good to throw it for strikes."
Wright made his Triple-A debut throwing 6 2/3 innings on the 2013 regular season's final day for a Norfolk team still in the playoff hunt. Now he should get a full-time shot there and the club's No. 8 ranked prospect according to Baseball America could make his big league debut this season.
Schoop and Wright. One was signed as an international amateur and one drafted out of college. Both are trying to become solid big leaguers. By doing that, they also will be O's minor league success stories.