Minor League Prospect Comparison: Jonathan Schoop vs Cory Spangenberg

In today's prospect comparison we're going to take a look at Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop and Padres prospect Cory Spangenberg. Neither of these young men have defensive homes, although both are currently set to play second base and have shown enough to stick there for the foreseeable future. Once again, if there is anyone specific, or a specific position that anyone would like to see more of please let me know. On to the comp...

Jonathan Schoop - SS/2B - Orioles - Schoop was signed out of Curacao in 2008, but didn't really place himself on the prospect map until the 2010 season. If 2010 put him on the map, 2011 made him a tourist destination. Schoop dominated Lo-A to the tune of a .316/.376/.514 slash line, giving him a stellar .198 ISO. Once he moved up to Hi-A Frederick, Schoop's slash line dropped to .271/.329/.375 (.104 ISO), but scouting reports were no less glowing. Schoop displays good bat speed that translates to at least average power, but possibly slightly above as I have seen grades up to 60 (on the 20-80 scale). He projects to have a solid hit tool along with that bat, and he has a decent grasp of the strike zone. Though his walk rate dropped 1.7% (8.4 to 6.7), he maintained his solid strikeout rate of 13.4% while moving from Lo-A to Hi-A, which is a positive sign. Schoop does have holes in his offensive game, as he struggles against right-handed pitching and swings at too many breaking balls out of the strike zone, but he made impressive strides with his swing mechanics last year. The bigger question on Schoop seems to be about where he will put his bat to use. He split time all around the infield last year, playing shortstop when Manny Machado missed time due to injury and saw some time at third base as well, but was most often partnered with Machado up the middle at second base. While it seems highly doubtful that he will last at shortstop, Schoop improved at second base over the course of the season and turns the double-play with ease. I listed Schoop as a SS/2B because that is where he played most of 2011 and I don't like to force a guy off a position until the organization moves him because people can improved or orgs can decide to live with bad defense. That being said, second or third base seems to be his most likely destination and if it matters to you where your prospects play, I would react accordingly. Throwing out comparisons to current ML players often will cause a debate, but I can't help thinking that Schoop could end up being a pre-2011 Martin Prado-style player. Obviously there are caveats, as I see him with a bit less average and bit more power, but I think multi-position eligibility and an 800+ OPS seems within reach for Schoop. He won't be a game changer for your fantasy team, but is more likely to be a solid glue guy who can carry a position for a stretch while someone is hurt.

Cory Spangenberg - 2B - Padres - San Diego selected Spangenberg 10th overall with their compensation pick for not signing Karsten Whitson in 2010. The significance of that is that without this pick being protected, San Diego had to take someone who they knew they could sign. And sign Spangenberg they did, just four days after he was drafted. Put to work immediately, Spangenberg fulfilled his reputation as one of the best hitters in the draft by annihilating short-season ball to the tune of a 1080 OPS. While his hit tool and on-base ability are for real, we shouldn't see Spangenberg sporting a .545 slugging percentage again anytime soon. Spangenberg is a line drive hitter who barrels the ball well, but doesn't have much loft in his swing and has below-average power without much projection there. His hit tool isn't his only positive as he used his blazing speed to steal a combined 57 bases in 2011. Spangenberg showed tremendous patience in the short-season Northwest League walking twice as much as he struck out, but the pendulum swung the other way once he was promoted to Lo-A where he struck out more than three times as much as he walked. On the other side of the ball Spangenberg's home is somewhat unsettled. He played third base in Junior College, but was relegated to the keystone while in the pros. He showed good range there, but still needs work on his footwork and mechanics. Centerfield and third base have both been mentioned as possible destinations for him as well, though he seemed to show enough at second in 2011 to keep a position switch at bay for the foreseeable future. Spangenberg is talked about as a quick mover, and although his struggles at Lo-A may land him back there for the start of 2012, I would anticipate a promotion to Hi-A during the season.

I have a hard time separating these two players. Spangenberg has the edge in pedigree and tools, but there's something that keeps me coming back to Schoop. Logic would dictate that Spangenberg is the player to take here because he has a high floor as an empty average guy with bunches of steals at what is traditionally a weak position. However, Schoop has done it at a more advanced level and is stronger in the tool I covet most: power. I think that Schoop has some more development left in him while Spangenberg kind of is what he is. I may not be able to put it into words, but I think I can safely quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in saying "I know it when I see it"... and hey, we were both talking about second base! In all seriousness, I wouldn't blame anyone for preferring Spangenberg over Schoop, but I just can't escape the feeling that Schoop has another gear he has yet to shift into. Think I'm crazy for preferring the kid from Curacao? I won't blame you, but tell me why in the comments.

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