24 June 2011

Cup of jO's: Jonathan Schoop is from Curacao

No MLB game yesterday for the O's


The rosters for the XM All Star Futures Game were released yesterday.  The Orioles placed Manny Machado on the US team and Jonathan Schoop on the World team.  Most teams have two representatives with Brewers, Yankees, Athletics, Giants, Cubs, Angels, Blue Jays, Marlins, Astros, and Dodgers only having one.  These are great accomplishments for the players selected, but we should not view these rosters as being full of the top 60 or so talents in the minors.  That said, Manny Machado has been proclaimed by Baseball America as the best SS prospect in the minors and has made a few mid-season top ten lists even with time lost for a dislocated kneecap.  Jonathan Schoop has also be lauded by Keith Law and others as a top 50 prospect with an outside shot at the top 25.

Schoop is of particular interest because he is an international signee.  The Orioles are notorious for being late to the international free agent market and for preferring to spend resources on domestic talent through the draft.  They are continually in the bottom five for international signing bonuses and that is with a considerable increase in money spent the past couple years.  Still, they seem to have hit on a player from Curacao.  It is well known that there is a lot of talent that is signed for less than 100k in other countries.  Teams like the Rockies and Rangers have invested into ties to foreign countries and showing that they are dependable organizations that help players develop.  Prospects who are not elite level prospects often will wind up signing deals that are sometimes half of what other teams are offering.  For instance, if you read Venezuela Bust, Baseball Boom you find a dozen or so examples of players who signed with the Astros at lower prices (e.g. $30,000) than what other organizations are offering (e.g. $75,000).  This is not truly remarkable when you consider life before the draft in the US.  If you read Dollar Sign on the Muscle, you find that old time scouts often mention how a particular scout being in with the family for years could often persuade them to sign for less than what other organizations could offer.

What is remarkable about Schoop and the Orioles is that my guess is that the Orioles are not well established in Curacao.  Although, for an organization like the Orioles who spend so little in the international free agent agent, a small side talent pool like Curacao is likely to bring them more success than competing with more established and better funded groups in the Dominican.  This may also be a reason for the Orioles continued apparent reluctance to more forcefully enter the Venezuelan market for players.  Instead, we see the Orioles push money into Curacao, Nicaragua, Panama, and other locations where MLB scouting may not be as intense.  It is exciting to have Schoop in the fold though.

I first heard of Schoop as a player to watch before the 2010 season when he played in the rookie leagues as an 18 year old.  Talent evaluators within the Orioles were known to be quite impressed with him and that sentiment rapidly spread out before spring training.  He proceeded to hit for good power, have a high contact rate, and managed to walk at a decent rate.  As a result he popped up on a number of top ten prospect sheets for the Orioles.  He started the year off with Delmarva primarily at third base, but also filling in for an injured Manny Machado at third.  Schoop managed an impressive 316/376/514 line, which pushed him up to Frederick.  At Frederick, he has played all around the infield and has had initial struggles.  He has shown power though and after an adjustment period he should do fine.  Schoop is good enough for his bat to play at that level and it is his bat that is pushing him upwards.

With Machado now at Frederick, you are going to see some exciting play there.  I advise anyone within close proximity of the Keys to go and watch these two as often as possible.

No comments: