There was an interesting discussion the other day on MLB Network about rookies in Major League Baseball. They were basically wondering whether it is tougher for young players to have instant success these days.
Long-time writer and reporter Peter Gammons concluded it might be for two main reasons. One is that these kids are hyped more than ever and that puts some pressure on them right away. Another is that all the advanced scouting in the game provides more in-depth reports on how to get these young players out. Teams have extensive scouting reports on the players before they take their first big league at-bat.
This makes perfect sense to me. There is more written and said about prospects now than at any time I can remember. They are analyzed, ranked and publicized to a point that expectations for any touted prospect are very high before they even reach the bigs.
If they don’t tear it up from the start, it doesn’t take long to start hearing that the player is overmatched, not ready and/or was rushed to the majors.
But maybe seeing these players struggle early on is more the norm and is what we should expect and it is happening all around the game. Last week, the Red Sox sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Triple-A. He was batting .216 in 112 games. His teammate, Xander Bogaerts, is batting .223 in 118 games. St. Louis called up one of baseball’s top prospects, outfielder Oscar Taveras, who is batting .238 in 54 games.
When you look at some of these stats, the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop fits right into the discussion. In his rookie season, he is batting .215 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. He has walked just 10 times for an OBP of .250 with a slugging percentage of .355 and an OPS of .605.
Schoop has had some very impressive moments, homering off pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, Kyle Lohse and Jeff Samardzija. But he has also looked overmatched at times, too. The Orioles love his defense and maturity, and they have been willing to accept the growing pains.
Schoop recently had an eight-game stretch where he went 8-for-28 (.286) with three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs. It was one of his better stretches of 2014. Like many of his teammates, he didn’t hit much at Wrigley Field, going 1-for-10 in the series.
One consideration for any young prospect is whether he can handle the struggles which are sure to be there. Schoop seems like he can and he is emerging as a contributing player on a first-place team.
Dan Duquette during a recent interview on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore talked about Schoop’s potential “once he learns to control the strike zone.”
Improved plate discipline and chasing fewer pitches will no doubt help Schoop’s bat take a step forward. We’ve seen his power potential and what the kid can do when he gets a pitch up in the zone. Now he just needs to get himself into a position to get more pitches to hit and do less chasing.
At this point, this late in the year, I would not expect to see anyone but Schoop get most of the starts at second base moving forward. The Orioles have stuck with him all year. Why change now?
The Orioles had to figure he would have plenty of ups and downs this season and they decided to ride it out with Schoop.
How do you feel about how the club has handled Schoop this year?