Jonathan Schoop is settng his sights on the O's starting second base job.
One of the main issues the Baltimore Orioles have had over the last few seasons is at second base. With longtime Oriole Brian Roberts being injured for much of the last three seasons, the O's have had to mix and match to try and get the job done, with no real standouts.
Last season, it was Robert Andino and Ryan Flaherty sharing second base duties. This year so far, Flaherty is platooning with Alexi Casilla. While they're getting the job done, mainly on defense, they're also leaving a lot left to be desired.
In a perfect world, Roberts would stay healthy and play effectively. Or Flaherty would grow into a plus player, like the Orioles think he can. But if one of those things can't happen by the end of the season, it's time for the O's to start taking a look at other options.
One of those other options is minor leaguer Jonathan Schoop. Considered to be one of the better prospects in the Orioles' farm system, Schoop can play both middle infield positions and has a solid bat.
He started as a shortstop, but moved over to second base in order to play with Manny Machado last season. For a while, fans and team bloggers alike drooled over the idea of an eventual Machado-Schoop middle infield for the parent club. But as we all know, Machado is currently in the majors playing third while Schoop is still getting seasoning in at Triple-A.
So the question is, if Roberts, Flaherty or even Casilla can't claim the second base job by the end of the season, is Schoop the answer there for seasons to come?
Is Jonathan Schoop going to become a long-term answer for the Orioles?
It all depends on whether Schoop can show improvement both with the and the glove. He isn't bad with either, obviously shown by the O's faith in him as a prospect, but both leave some room for growth.
However, due to the Orioles' very serious need at the position, they may be willing to give him more chances than a team would usually give a young player, allowing him to grow into the position at his own pace and aiding his development overall. And if the rest of the team is performing well, the pressure won't be on him to grow into some superstar savior that the team needs.
While Schoop's home run total went up last season in comparison to 2011, his RBI, average and OBP dropped. And the O's aren't going to just hand the job to him, especially with someone like Flaherty around that they're also high on.
One may imagine that Schoop will have to earn the job, but as long as he stays consistent with the numbers he's put up the last two seasons, he may be given a shot should Roberts continue to be injury-ridden and Flaherty and Casilla don't get the job done to the club's satisfaction.
At the end of the day, I think Schoop will develop into a solid major league ballplayer. He may not become an All-Star, but he will become someone that any team would be happy to have to complement the rest of their squad. Is he the long-term solution at second base in Baltimore? Only time will tell.
If he's not the long-term solution, he's definitely a good option for a few seasons while the club tries to figure out other options. And like I said, he's definitely going to develop into a solid major league player, so if the O's wanted to keep him around for a while, his play will likely support that idea.
For now though, it's all a guessing game. Things may be more clear in about a year, or they might not. As of now, though, Schoop is on track to be a part of many O's teams of the future.