The final major domino appears to have fallen for the Orioles’ 25-man roster and rookie Jonathan Schoop will reportedly get his shot in Baltimore to begin the year.
According to FOX Sports insider Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles plan to keep Schoop on the active roster to alternate at both second and third base while Manny Machado continues to work his way back to full strength after offseason knee surgery. Schoop impressed manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette with a strong spring that included a .385 average with two home runs, five doubles, and eight runs batted in over 39 Grapefruit League at-bats.
The final middle-infield job had been down to Schoop and Jemile Weeks, who was acquired as part of the Jim Johnson trade over the winter.
With Machado not expected back until sometime in April, there had been growing sentiment to reward Schoop’s strong spring with a short-term audition with the Orioles. However, a strong start would certainly go a long way in persuading the organization to keep him in Baltimore for good.
The likely plan for Schoop is to play second base with Ryan Flaherty shifting over to third against right-handed pitching. The Curacao native would then move over to third base with the newly-acquired — and switch-hitting — Steve Lombardozzi handling second base against left-handed starters.
Considered the Orioles’ top positional prospect since Machado was promoted to Baltimore late in the 2012 season, Schoop made his major league debut late last season and homered in his first game. This came after he missed two months of action for Triple-A Norfolk due to a stress fracture in his back.
Schoop hit .256 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs, and a .697 on-base plus slugging percentage over 289 plate appearances with the Tides last season.