Pondering whether Schoop can take his offense to another level (Santarone note)

Jonathan Schoop is already a rare player in that he was a signed international amateur that made it all the way through the from the lowest levels of the Orioles’ farm system to becoming a major league starter.

Now the question is can he stay as a starter, and how will he do with even more seasoning and experience?

Some fans were very understanding of the ups and downs Schoop had last year when he struggled at times playing at 22.

Over 137 games and 455 at-bats, the native of Curacao hit .209 with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. He had an OBP of .244, a .354 slugging percentage and .598 OPS.

During his minor league career Schoop had a slash line of .268/.335/.407 with a .742 OPS.

Jonathan-Schoop-bat.jpgSome scouts told me he projected as an offensive second baseman that could bat .280 with 10 to 15 homers. He already exceeded that homers total projection and now he needs to work on the average and plate discipline skills.

Last winter, Schoop was ranked as the No. 82 prospect in the sport by Baseball Prospectus and No. 86 by ESPN.

In his last two seasons in the minors, he put up decent but far from great stats at Double-A and Triple-A. But it’s easy to forget that Schoop was among the youngest players in the Eastern League at 20 in 2012 with Double-A Bowie and was just 21 in 2013 when he was with Triple-A Norfolk.

A stress fracture in his lower back in May kind of derailed Schoop’s 2013 season just as his bat was beginning to take off with the Norfolk Tides. In his first 11 games that May, he was batting .348 with two homers, eight RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and an .862 OPS. I believe he was on his way to a big year with the Tides before the injury, which caused him to miss two months.

He went on to hit .256 with nine homers, 34 RBIs and a .697 OPS in 70 games with Norfolk. All along O’s brass has insisted they were fine with Schoop’s modest stats in the high minors and that he was progressing very well for a kid so young.

He was a plus defender at second base for the Orioles last season and manager Buck Showalter consistently praised his defense. We all saw Schoop’s ups and downs on offense, his sometimes wild swings and that he never had an extended hot streak.

But he came into spring of 2014 a bigger and stronger player and won the second base job which he held all year.

The Orioles went 14-1 in games in which he homered and the list of pitchers he connected against included Kyle Lohse, Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Buehrle, Jeff Samardzija, R.A. Dickey, Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka twice.

What can we make of this? Is it a good sign for the kid that he homered off of some top pitchers?

The Orioles were patient with Schoop on offense while realizing he could be at times a difference maker on defense. He also hit 16 homers, ranking fifth on a team that led the majors in that stat.

How much offensive improvement can Schoop make, and how much patience should the club show with him in 2015?

Will the valuable experience he gained last year and the struggles he endured help him moving forward?

Former O’s groundskeeper honored: Late Orioles groundskeeper Pat Santarone today was named one of the newest members of the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame.

Santarone joined the O’s as head groundskeeper in 1969, spending 22 seasons tending the grounds at Memorial Stadium before retiring on opening day in 1991. During his tenure, Baltimore infielders won a total of 25 Gold Gloves, while the Orioles captured five American League pennants and won two World Series titles (1970, 1983).

Santarone began his career at 23 with Single-A Elmira, taking over the field from his father, Val. During the 1960s with Elmira as the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, Santarone worked with future Orioles manager and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver. The two reunited in Baltimore, where they shared a fondly remembered annual tomato growing competition. Santarone spent retirement in Montana and passed away in May 2008.

Santarone and Pete Flynn of the New York Mets will be inducted the evening of Jan. 11 at Coors Field in Denver, joining previous inductees Emil Bossard (Indians), George Toma (Royals), Joe Mooney (Red Sox), Dick Ericson (Twins), and Harry Gil (Brewers) in the MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame.

To be considered for induction to the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame, a person must have ceased employment in the profession for at least five years and have made a significant contribution to groundskeeping and/or the sports turf industry at the Major League level. An individual’s impact on the community is also considered. Nominees are submitted to the MLB Groundskeepers Association for a vote. Each team has one vote and a nominee must receive 75 percent of the vote of all active association members to be elected.

blog comments powered by Disqus