Unlike many prospects in spring training, Jonathan Schoop entered Baltimore Orioles' camp this spring with an actual chance to make his team's opening day roster. With only the likes of Jemile Weeks, Ryan Flaherty and others of this milieu standing in his way, Schoop entered camp as the least experienced of the bunch, but the most talented.
When it comes to prospects making the team, being the most talented isn't always the most important variable. There are other factors, such as financial control or player readiness, that tend to influence the decision in these situations away from who is simply the most talented player. When a team is ready to contend like the Orioles believe that they are this season, however, things can change. A strong spring by Schoop combined with an open job at the keystone and a strong roster in Baltimore have created the perfect storm for Schoop to possibly make the Orioles opening day roster, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.
Schoop is already likely a better hitter than any of his second base counterparts, but he's far from a finished product. As Tucker Blair of Orioles-Nation points out in his breakdown, Schoop crushes fastballs but still struggles with quality breaking stuff. He has just 70 games of sub-.700 OPS work in Triple-A to his credit, and missed time last year with a stress fracture in his back. While he may be the Orioles' best option, he's far from his best self.
What ultimately becomes Schoop's best self is still very much a question as well. Some see him as a first division regular, and his ability to play either second base or short stop lowers the offensive bar far enough that he may be able to make that happen. He'll never be a patient offensive hitter, but his bat control and power could translate into J.J. Hardy-esque offensive numbers down the road, perhaps with more batting average and slightly less pop.
It's his glove, however, that brings the most value to Schoop's game, both in its quality and versatility. Schoop's best role down the road may be as a super-utility player, one who can play second, short and third base (and I'm sure, even a corner outfield spot if the Orioles needed). Schoop is ready to contribute defensively in the majors right now, and while his bat may not be completely ready, it has enough pop in it to contribute where his counterparts can't.
So while Schoop may not be a finished product, that may not matter to the Orioles for this season, as they look to contend and will need to put the best product on the field from day one. The Orioles have plenty of options for second base should they choose to give Schoop more time in the minors, but even without being fully developed, Schoop is probably the team's best option on opening day.