Name: Jonathan Schoop
Notable 2011 Stats: .316/.376/.514 with 12 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 32/20 K/BB, and 6-for-10 SB in 51 games with Delmarva (A);
.271/.329/.375 with 12 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 44/22 K/BB, and 6-for-9 SB in 77 games with Frederick (High-A);
.290/.349/.432 with 24 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 76/42 K/BB, and 12-for-19 SB in 128 games total
Why He’s This High: Any middle infielder who blows through Low-A at age 19 deserves attention, and Schoop did just that in the first half of the season.
Offensively, he showed a little bit of everything: he struck out in just 13.4% of his at-bats at both Low-A and High-A, and he walked at reasonable clips (8.4% and 6.7%) as well. His power dipped when he was promoted, which was understandable given his youth and the tough Carolina League environment, but he still topped a .100 ISO in High-A. He showed some speed–not enough to project as much of a basestealer, but enough that he should maintain reasonable BABIP figures, thus allowing him to project as a high-average hitter.
Therefore, he projects to be an above-average hitter across-the-board, with a .285 average, some walks, and 15-20 homers. The upside here is along the lines of Rickie Weeks, hopefully with more health.
Why He’s This Low: Schoop saw time at second base, third base, and shortstop in 2011, which is why I simply listed his position as “infield,” and he didn’t play particularly well at any of the three spots. With Manny Machado being the probable future at short for the Orioles, Schoop isn’t likely to see much more time at that position, and he likely wasn’t going to be able to stay there anyway. His range would be a plus at third, but his arm is questionable, and he fielded just .902 in 23 games at the position this year. Undoubtedly, he’d probably improve with time, but it’s questionable whether he’d be an average defender at third despite his good defensive tools.
That leaves second base, where Schoop doesn’t have the significant error issues (.975 fielding percentage this season) but his range, while presently average for second base, could decline when he fills out.
So, ultimately, there’s a big question as to whether Schoop will find a way to be an MLB-average defender at a key defensive position. While his overall offensive package is quite solid, his power ceiling isn’t huge, and his offense would be far less appealing in, say, right field than second or third base.
Conclusions: Schoop has a broad offensive skillset and a chance at staying at a key defensive position, but like many of the position players toward the bottom of this list, there are questions about exactly what sort of ceiling he has. If you squint hard enough, you can see a Weeks or Brandon Phillips, but those comparisons assume further power development offensively and some serious improvements defensively.
That said, we’re talking about a guy who crushed Low-A and held his own in High-A as a teenager, so there’s plenty of development that could still happen here.
The biggest issue with Schoop is that he needs to find a position, and after his ping-ponging between three positions in 2011, Schoop really needs to be tried at just one spot–preferably second or third base–for all of 2012. He should be a very valuable, if not quite spectacular, offensive player if he can manage to stay at one of those positions. He’s certainly a prospect on the rise, and if he can consolidate his skillset on both sides of the ball in 2012, he should be one of the top 10 infield prospects in the game.
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