Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles, after months of being criticized by their fanbase and most of baseball for standing pat all offseason, have made some noise of late. They signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz to fill holes in their roster, and were reportedly close on a one-year deal with Ervin Santana before he came a Brave. There depth chart looks a lot more settled now with the new acquisitions, but there’s still a position battle emerging for the keystone job that is one of the most interesting stories of the spring so far. As part of the trade that sent Jim Johnson to the Athletics, the team received second baseman Jemile Weeks to replace departed DL resident and sometimes-second baseman Brian Roberts. Weeks looked likely to compete with utility man Ryan Flaherty, but despite Weeks’ struggles the last two years, Flaherty has a career .279 OBP in over 430 plate appearances. Weeks has yet to regain his form from his debut year when he hit .303 for a 110 OPS+, but with the team’s lack of options he looked like a good get in a trade that was mostly just a salary dump.
Orioles top prospect Jonathon Schoop, however, is doing all he can to make sure that the O’s know they have options. His OPS this spring is 1.320 and his ceiling is, well, through the roof. Schoop is a talented player on both sides of the ball and has reportedly shown up to camp having added significant muscle in the offseason with his friend Jurickson Profar. If Schoop continues hitting the cover off the ball, the likes of Jemile Weeks and Ryan Flaherty aren’t likely to stand in his way.
My Gut Says: Schoop continues hitting the cover off the ball until pitchers figure him out a little and his propensity for striking out catches up to him a bit.
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