Unheralded Star in the Making: Jonathon Schoop
They call it dynasty baseball for a reason: you want to build a dynasty. One of the keys to building a dynasty is to find guys before they become the next superstar. If I told you right now to go trade for Mike Trout, you’d give me one of those “Well, duh!” looks and then offer your whole team for him and get rejected. Today, we are going to find you a star in the making that you don’t have to trade your whole team for. His name: Jonathon Schoop (pronounced “scope” for all you pronunciation fiends).
Schoop has been a known commodity for a while. He was signed out of Curacao by the Orioles when he was 16, and he has worked his way up the ladder since then. Between 2012 and 2014, he found himself inside the top 100 prospects of Baseball Prospectus thrice, all three times falling in the 80s. He showed himself in the minor leagues to be a player who would hit between .270 and .300, walk sparingly, and hit for solid power numbers. He arrived in the majors for good as a 22 year old in 2014, and the results were very confusing. He homered 16 times in 455 at bats, not a bad rate for a 22 year old, but he also batted .209 with a .244 OBP. Yeah, you read that right. Luckily, the Orioles stuck with him, and in 2015 he raised his average to .279 while hitting 15 homers in only 305 at bats. Playing in every game this year, all 162, he hit .267 with 25 homers and 38 doubles. Sure, he only walked 21 times, and his OBP was under .300, but he exhibited the power that many were always tantalized by with Schoop.
What makes Schoop an undervalued dynasty asset? For one, he’s only 24. He’s been around a long time when you consider all his forays onto prospect lists, and there is some fatigue involved with that. He also plays a position that has seen some other popup stars in recent years, from Jose Altuve to Rougned Odor to DJ Lemahieu. Second base may be deeper in fantasy than it has ever been, in large part thanks to a power surge, and Schoop is an undervalued part of this.
I want to compare Schoop to a fellow youthful second baseman mentioned above: Rougned Odor. Odor is built from a similar mold to Schoop; he actually walked less this year, while hitting a handful more home runs. Other than this, their backgrounds are similar. They were both highly thought of international signees, both were allowed to play through a full season’s worth of ups and downs at an age when most players are still in the minor leagues, and both really displayed their power this year.
I own both Schoop and Odor in a dynasty league of mine, and I have placed them on the trading block just as a curiosity test numerous times. Never once have I gotten asked about Schoop, but I am always asked about Odor. I am willing to bet you could acquire Schoop for about half the talent it would take to acquire Odor, and they really are not that different. If anything, just from watching their approaches at the plate, Schoop is actually more sound in that he uses the whole field better than Odor. He also could turn some of his 38 doubles into more homers and top the 30 homer mark with some luck next year.
One thing that intrigues me the most about Schoop is his ability to hit breaking balls. According to Fangraphs, he was the 10th best hitter in all of baseball at hitting the curveball, based on their weighted curveball pitch value for hitters. Ahead of him on the list are more familiar names: Trout, Votto, Miggy, Goldschmidt, Cespedes and Freeman, to name five. It seems there is something to be said for being able to hit the breaking ball, as all of those players are stars. Schoop, in his ability to hit the curveball, will not be taken advantage of by big leaguers with good breaking balls. In my eyes, he may be able to find himself on a few more lists with Trout, Votto, and Miggy.
That is exactly the kind of guy I would want to acquire: he’s still young, he could grow into more power, and for some reason or another, my fellow owners are unaware of just how much value he brings to the table. Go get Jonathon Schoop, and don’t regret it!