With Opening Day just over three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.
2B Jonathan Schoop
Opening Day age: 23
Contract status: Under club control through the 2019 season
Minor-league options remaining: Two
2014 stats: .209/.244/.354, 16 HR, 45 RBI, 48 R, 2 SB, 481 PA
Why to be impressed: The Curacao native is the best example of how much manager Buck Showalter values defense as Schoop ranked fourth among major league second basemen in runs saved in 2014 and consistently remained in the lineup despite a .598 OPS. His 16 homers reflect how much raw power he possesses despite just 289 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
Why to be concerned: Schoop walked only 13 times in 481 plate appearances, a lower walk percentage than even Adam Jones. His defense will help keep him in the starting lineup, but the Orioles simply need more production from Schoop at the plate to help offset the offseason losses of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in the everyday lineup.
2015 outlook: His minor-league résumé suggests Schoop can be more patient at the plate than he was in his rookie season, but his low walk total will continue to limit his overall ceiling. Schoop hitting 15 to 20 homers wouldn’t appear to be out of the question and if he can elevate his OPS into the .675 range, he will establish himself as a starting second baseman in the American League moving forward, especially if he continues to play above-average defense.