Curacao is a small island in the Caribbean that is the home of many stars. Players from the island include Jurickson Profar, Andruw Jones, and Kenley Jansen. It also happens to be the home of rising prospect Jonathan Schoop. The 20 year old infielder has risen fast through the rankings in the past two years, and has finally put his name on the map.
Schoop ranked 4th on all three top prospect lists published this week. Below are some observations on his build, swing, offense, and defense.
Schoop has a big frame which tells me he has some growth left. Schoop was a stick when he first showed up on the radar. It’s already apparent that he is starting to put on some muscle and weight, which is a good thing considering he never was a top speed kind of guy. Even better, it has not affected his agility in any form, as he has looked fluid in the field and while running.
There is still room for more growth and maybe this helps to power the bat even more down the road. Right now I would say he stands closer to 6′ 2” than the 6′ 1” listed at the beginning of the year. Like I said, the growth is evident and he is almost the same stature as Manny Machado, if not already bigger.
Needless to say, those two are impressive to see standing next to each other out in the middle infield.
Swing & Offense
For me, this is what will make or break Schoop as a player. He still relatively has the same, upright, balanced stance. He has settled down the movement of his head a little on the swing.
His quick hands and shoulders make his bat speed lightning quick and I would rate it plus. Add this along with his plus power and here is a player that can turn some heads. I have not seen a better batting practice in 2012 from any player in the Orioles organization besides Chris Davis and his home run derby shows. Of course batting practice is just that. It’s not a live game. It does allow for him to display that 5 o’clock power and lightning bat speed though.
In games, the power is still very evident. He leads Bowie with 13 HR, and none of them should be taken for granted. Down the road, with a little growth, it would not be surprising to see him turn that power into plus-plus power. His bat speed and growing body really could make that happen. Add that with the fact that he could potentially play at 2nd or 3rd and it’s quite exhilarating thinking about the future. However, there are flaws that come with every young player.
Over the past couple months Schoop has seemingly gotten a little long in his swing. This is primarily caused by his inefficiency hitting the change up. Schoop has never seen a fastball he couldn’t crush. It’s just something that is rare. Attempt to throw a fastball by him and he might just show off that plus power.
Throw him a change and it might spell the end of the at bat for Schoop. Thus, he has developed this elongated swing which has not only hurt his average and contact ability, but maybe gotten to his head a little bit. Remember this is a young player learning on the fly. It’s a new experience for him and he is learning everything from a different language to baseball to all these random foods that us silly Americans eat. It’s a lot to take in for a person, and Schoop has done an excellent job so far.
Jonathan Schoop Links
But in the higher levels a player can get exposed quickly by not being able to hit the change and off speed. It’s probably affected his ability against good fastballs as well. He is still super young, so don’t take this as a knock on him. Pitchers at AA generally have much better secondary pitches than in the lower minors. They also have had more time to polish them. Let’s also remember that they might be one, three, five and even seven years older than Schoop.
There is still plenty of time and growth left for Schoop and his bat.
This is often a fun area of Schoop’s game to discuss. With Machado playing SS, he was pretty quickly moved off. In reality, he was very unlikely to stick at SS anyways since most rate him as fringe defensively there. So the move was made to 2nd base and he’s been alright there. Schoop was a little stiff at the beginning of the year, and it was evident that he was not completely relaxed quite yet. This does not mean he has a brick glove, but that he wasn’t exactly comfortable.
Over time he has loosened up a little there and has been much more fluid. As mentioned above, he has actually shown good agility and it would have been ridiculous to think he would just magically pick up 2nd like it’s the easiest thing in the world. He’s still having a little trouble making reads from the position, but all should shake out given time. The more reps he gets at 2nd, the more consistent he should get.
He’s getting to some plays too quickly right now, and even misjudging liners directly at him. But remember it’s a new spot and he’s primarily played SS.
I think he sticks at 2nd, although there are some that think future growth may push him to a less agility-oriented position like 3rd or RF. I don’t really see that right now and think he’s plenty fine at 2nd. At worst case, he is simply average there down the road. It’s certainly possible for him to outgrow 2nd though. I really like his transfer ability and I think he’s really improved on the turn at 2nd.
Machado and Schoop work really well with each other up the middle, and it’s probably because they have worked together through the minors. Some say the best double-play combos in history could read each others mind. More than likely, they just worked their butts off together. Just a little food for thought down the road.
Schoop is an impressive talent with a lot of plus tools. He’s the type of player that people can fall in love with and dream big on. While he still has some kinks to work out with the bat and glove, his young age and unbelievable talents provide much hope for the future. If the contact and ability to read the off speed ever shows, he could be a force. The swing will need to be shortened and become a little less armsy, but the tools are all still there. Regardless, I still think his power alone will get him to the bigs one day. This off-season will be an important one for the young Curacao native.