The Orioles need more from Jonathan Schoop in 2015


Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s obvious the Orioles have lost a lot of offensive production this offseason. Most notably, Nelson Cruz, whose homerun and RBI totals are impossible to replace. Also frustrating for Oriole fans has been their inability to acquire any replacement production this offseason. Essentially, the Orioles have seen a lot walk out without anything comparable walking in.

The Orioles are still linked to several remaining free agents, and there remain several players who could potentially improve the Orioles’ roster. However, one would have to admit these are the scraps of the free agent market. That being said, it seems clear the Orioles are banking on bounce-back seasons from veterans Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters.

However, depending on three players to repeat their performances of two seasons ago, after down seasons a year ago, may be a bit too optimistic. Manny Machado has now had surgery on both knees in back-to-back seasons, Matt Wieters’ availability for opening day is still in question, and Chris Davis probably can’t repeat his 2012 season. With that in mind, the Orioles will need second-baseman Jonathan Schoop to take a major step forward in 2015.

Jonathan Schoop was a name that had been thrown around the Orioles minor league news for several years before making the ball club out of spring training last season. Before spring training, Schoop hardly seemed in the conversation of making the 25-man roster. However, after a strong spring in Sarasota, and a minor-league track record that glowed with potential, Orioles’ management decided that the future was now for their young prospect.

It was clear watching him play every day why the Orioles had been so high on the right-handed hitting Schoop. At times his athleticism and raw-ability jumped of the screen, especially on defense, where he excelled after moving permanently to second-base. In fact, if he can repeat that performance in 2015, Schoop could be on the short list for a Gold-Glove next offseason.

However, it’s at the plate the Orioles may need the most help in 2015, and at the plate was not nearly as strong for Schoop. Obviously, his bat-speed and raw power were at times incredible to watch, and a few of his tape-measure homers were breathtaking. But over the course of the season, Schoop failed to adjust to major-league level pitching and at times looking completely overmatched.

Schoop ended the season with 16 homeruns and 45 RBI’s, yet his .209 average and 122 K’s were clearly disappointing. The Orioles can hope for their returning stars to duplicate their previous seasons in 2015, but if Jonathan Schoop can live up to his natural ability and take a step forward offensively, it would do a lot to fill the production gap left by Nelson Cruz’s departure.