Manny Machado burst onto the scene late in 2012 and helped the Baltimore Orioles reach the postseason. In 2013, he proved he belonged.
This spring, it seems another position prospect is determined to break out in Baltimore.
The plan was for Jonathan Schoop to begin 2014 at Triple-A Norfolk and get regular playing time to dust off any rust after an injury-plagued 2013. But the versatile infielder is playing his way into the club’s immediate plans. And with the uncertainty surrounding Machado’s knee and his availability for early April unclear, Schoop may land a starting job with the Orioles.
In 2008, Schoop played for the Curacao team that finished as the runner-up in the Senior League World Series held at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
A shortstop by trade, Schoop’s future in Baltimore is likely at second base. He has played some shortstop in spring training, but if he were to make the Opening Day roster, it would be at second base, with Portland native Ryan Flaherty shifting to third base to fill in until Machado returns.
Upon Machado’s return, the Orioles could return Schoop to the minors, or use Flaherty, a former Vanderbilt standout, in a super utility role, having him sharing time with Schoop at second base. If Schoop continues to hit, it will be tough for the Orioles to keep him in the minors.
Schoop came up in September and impressed in limited at-bats, homering once and going 4-for-15 in five games. Through 14 Grapefruit League games, Schoop was 12-for-30 (.400) with a home run, two doubles and six RBIs.
If the roster situation plays out right, he will get an opportunity. Otherwise, he will start the season at Norfolk, ready to join the club whenever the opportunity arises.
One way or another, the Orioles seem to have another promising position prospect very close to contributing to the everyday lineup.