Jonathan Schoop is a guy I have been following closely ever since he impressed me when I saw him in the GCL. Before he began to generate all the hype, Schoop was busy playing on the backfields of Ed Smith Stadium — going unnoticed by the casual fan or O’s prospect follower. After watching Schoop for three games, I was so impressed I posted a full scouting report on July 1, 2010. Months later he was listed on nearly every O’s top 10 prospects list.
Pat Hickey, who broke down Schoop’s swing mechanics in the report linked to above, told me “if Schoop was in the 2010 draft pool he’d be a 2nd round pick.” And it appears that’s exactly what kind of talent the Orioles have in Schoop.
Schoop has a balanced, smooth swing with good hip rotation and hands that work well with his shoulders. His eye at the plate is beyond his years, and his pitch recognition is also advanced. He’s mostly a contact hitter now, but there is 15-20 home run potential if he uses his hips more and adds some more loft to his swing.
With Manny Machado at shortstop in Delmarva, Schoop will rotate between second and third base. This isn’t a huge issue, as I believe Schoop will eventually outgrow SS and lack the range to play there. His above-average arm strength would be wasted at second, making third base seem like the best fit for him going forward.
The Orioles gave Schoop a taste of High-A when they let him play with Frederick for the final six games of 2010. He’ll open 2011 with the Shorebirds, but will most likely find himself back with the Keys sometime in 2011.