Schoop is pronounced "scope."
- Schoop began playing baseball at the age of 4 while growing up in Curacao. Like many youth on the south Caribbean island, he also loved soccer.
"I played soccer but stopped at about 15 or 16 to focus on baseball," said Schoop.
Jonathan played in the 2004 Little League World Series, and recorded the save in the championship game for Curacao. He was just 13 years old. That was about when he added soccer to his resume.
"After we won the World Series, I changed over to soccer,” Schoop recalled. “I saw a lot of soccer guys who were short and I thought that would be my future.”
That’s when Schoop’s baseball mentor Frank Curiel interceded. “He found me playing with some friends and said to me, ‘Soccer’s not your thing,’” Schoop said. “He even slapped my head to make me understand that.”
Curiel’s assessment was spot on.
- In 2008, Schoop was signed by the Orioles as a free agent, out of Curacao.
In 2011, Baseball America rated Schoop as the 10th-best prospect in the Orioles' farm system. They moved him up to #3 in the spring of 2012; and he was at #3 again in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened. In the offseason before 2014 spring training, they rated Jonathan as 5th-best prospect in the Orioles' organization.
At the end of the 2010 season, Jonathan hit the last home run in Bluefield Orioles history.
In 2011, Schoop was named the Orioles' Minor League Player of the Year.
In October 2011, Jon hit only .171 for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Panama. But he drove in the winning run with a single in the gold medal game against Cuba.
In his first Major League at-bat on September 25, 2013, Schoop hit a single. Two at-bats later, he hit his first career home run of 430 feet. He finished the game 2-for-3 with a home run, an RBI, a walk, and 3 runs scored.
Q&A with Jonathan Schoop - 2014:
Favorite food: The honey-barbecue wings at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Favorite movie: "Fast and the Furious"
Hidden talent: Soccer. I was good. I was a forward. I stopped baseball at one point to play soccer. My first sport was always baseball, but then when I was 13 or 14, I decided I was going to play soccer and never play baseball again. My baseball coach made me change my mind. He came and got me one day in front of everybody and said, "You're going to play baseball."
If I wasn't a baseball player, I'd be: Manny Machado's bat boy. [Laughs]. An accountant.
Favorite offseason place: Home.
Prized possession: I have two baseballs, one from my first hit in the big leagues and the other from my first home run.
March 10, 2014: Schoop has a tattoo on his left arm with five stars, reminding him of his goal to be a five-tool player. He looks at it often and, if he had to critique himself now, would fill up about three-and-a-half stars. Maybe four. "I want to complete this," Schoop said, gesturing to the marking.
Lauded as one of the Orioles' top position-player prospects for quite some time, it was in the spring of 2012 that Schoop was hitching rides from minor league camp over to Ed Smith Stadium with Manny Machado whenever Showalter needed some extra players to fill out the spring games. Now, Schoop drives his brother, Sharlon—who he shares a house with—to the minor league complex before he comes in. Schoop works the Orioles' clubhouse better than most beat reporters, bouncing around from chair to chair, engaging guys in conversations and picking up as much information as possible.
"He spends every minute of the day trying to learn from everyone," shortstop J.J. Hardy said of Schoop. "He pays attention, he's very alert. And I think [him being] comfortable is the biggest [difference], in a good way. Because young kids can come up and feel comfortable, in a bad way. But in a good way, he's gotten a lot more comfortable."
Machado, who is close with Schoop after playing in the minors together, is impressed by how much Schoop is able to pick the brains of the veteran players.
"I think that helped with his confidence, being part of the team [in September 2013] and feeling like he's part of what we are trying to do here," said Machado, who likened Schoop's ever-present grin to being like a kid in a candy store. "This spring, he feels great. He looks great. He's done everything right in the offseason to prepare to try to make this team."
Schoop, who called Triple-A manager Ron Johnson "Mr. Johnson" for weeks, said he grew up a little bit, became more confident in his own skin, and had fun just playing baseball. Johnson said Schoop was one of the few players he's ever been around who could walk back from a strikeout and have a light-hearted comment or laugh with him. (Ghiroli - mlb.com - 3/10/2014)
In 2013, Schoop played in the World Baseball Classic for Team Netherlands. (Curacao is part of the Dutch Caribbean.) He hit .214 with two home runs.
In 2017, Schoop was again chosen to represent the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. In Schoop's mind, it was the World Baseball Classic that really got his career going. Schoop, who was part of the Netherlands team the last time this tournament came around in 2013, was an infield prospect who had yet to play in the big leagues.
July 2, 2017: Friends and family approached Jonathan throughout a career first half to tell him he had a shot at the All-Star Game. The humble second baseman never put too much stock in the idea, as he just concentrated on helping the Orioles win every game possible.
But others around the American League took notice. And Schoop, who has long been in the shadow of Orioles All-Star infielder Manny Machado, found himself in an unusual spot on Sunday night: Front and center as he was chosen as an American League reserve for the 2017 MLB All-Star Game.
One of Schoop's nicknames is "Mamba." He always loved Kobe Bryant and playing basketball, so his friends started calling him "Mamba" like Kobe.
Jonathan isn't content to just be the 2017 recipient of the Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award. Schoop sees his career 2017 season as a challenge: to continue to set the bar higher.
"I think I improved a lot, but I think I have a lot more room to go," Schoop said. "I think I'll be better next season."
Schoop has enjoyed a career season in which he made his first All-Star team and led the Orioles offensively. He entered Sept. 22nd batting .295/.340/.514 with 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 88 runs scored and 105 RBIs, already setting career highs in hits, home runs, runs and RBIs. He ranks second in the American League and seventh in the Majors in RBIs.
"To have that number of RBIs, it's the consistency and the durability. He's always had the durability, but the consistency took his game to another level," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Schoop, who is now the Orioles' all-time single-season RBI leader at second base. "He didn't get out of whack for very long. I think he's grown into a real consistent guy you can count on. When I see him 0-for-3 and walk in his last at-bat, I know it's a real sign of maturity … because you want to make up for it in one swing." (Ghiroli - mlb.com - 9/22/2017) (Editor's note: As of 2021, Schoop never surpassed his 2017 career year.)
December 8, 2017: While the pending free agency of players such as Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Zach Britton has given the Orioles a narrow window to win, Schoop is only under team control for one more season beyond that. The 26-year-old had a breakout campaign in 2017, and his consistency and durability make him an indispensable part of the lineup. The team needs to improve its all-or-nothing offense that saw a great power output and low walk totals. Schoop is the poster child for that improvement, totaling 35 walks—after just 21 in 2016—and a career high in hits, home runs, runs and RBIs to go along with it.
The All-Star second baseman has played in all but just two of Baltimore's games over the past two seasons. And with no clear heir apparent at second in the Orioles' system, Schoop staying healthy will go a long way in the O's success this 2018 season.
"He's always had the durability, but the consistency took his game to another level," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Schoop, who is the O's all-time single-season RBI leader at second base. "He didn't get out of whack for very long. I think he's grown into a real consistent guy you can count on. When I see him 0-for-3 and walk in his last at-bat, I know it's a real sign of maturity … because you want to make up for it in one swing."
Schoop led the Orioles in RBIs (105), batting average (.293), doubles (35) and hits (182). While several big bats—such as Machado, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo—went through prolonged slumps. (B Ghiroli - MLB.com - December 8, 2017) (Editor's note: Did you say "indispensable"? The O's traded Schoop to the Brewers in July 2018.)
January 19, 2018: Jonathan never forgets his roots. Schoop, a native of Curacao, spends his off-seasons there. The All-Star—coming off a career year in which he was named Most Valuable Oriole—still goes to the same field he grew up on to prepare for the upcoming season.
"My dad and my brother brought me here to this field. I got a uniform on, and I've learned here since I was 4," said Schoop, who played right field and shortstop as a kid. "I kept learning and learning and listening to my coaches and getting better. This field is everything. I used to come to this field at 10 o'clock in the morning and leave at 10 o'clock at night. I lived at the field all the time. I enjoyed it."
Schoop has evolved from a shy kid into one of the Orioles' middle-of-the-lineup big names. Schoop knows his words carry weight, and it's a role he takes seriously. That's why the second baseman makes it a point to visit coach Frank Curiel and come back to his field for clinics. Schoop remembers how much it meant to him to have big leaguers like Randall Simon and Andruw Jones coming back to the island for clinics.
"Now they can watch me, they can watch Didi Gregorius, they can watch Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar, Ozzie Albies, Kenley Jansen," Schoop said, listing the impressive number of current Curacao big leaguers. "I come back, give the kids some advice, let them see me and let them know that if I can make it, they can make it, too."
Schoop credits his teammates with helping him take the step to the next level. In particular, close friend Manny Machado, who he talks to frequently year-round. They came up through the Minor Leagues together and have handshakes and a friendly competition to keep each other on their toes. Former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy also gave Schoop the sage advice to not worry about individual numbers—just stay healthy and the numbers will be there at the end of the year. It's something Schoop has carried with him.
"That's what I'm trying to do," Schoop said. "Have fun with it, enjoy the game, play hard and try to win." (B Ghirolli - MLB.com - January 19, 2018)
January 27, 2019: Jonathan knows all about that "first day of school" feeling with a new team after he was traded to the Brewers at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline. So he knows what to expect this time around, and there will be a beloved mentor in the clubhouse to guide him through what he's confident will be a bounce back campaign.
"Nelson Cruz became my big brother, my dad in Baltimore," Schoop said. "We became really close friends and I call him 'Papa.'"
Even though Cruz and Schoop were teammates only for the 2014 season, the 27-year-old second baseman called Cruz the "best teammate ever" and told the Twins' front office about the impact that Cruz had on both him and Manny Machado when they were rising young stars with the Orioles.
"I love the guy so much," Schoop said. "I love to play with him. I know he will get everybody better. He got me better. Since I played with him in 2014, if I can talk good about him five years later, this guy's really good."
Though Schoop said he was bothered by an oblique strain for around five weeks in early 2018, he's not using it as an excuse for his subpar performance. Playing for the MLB-worst Orioles, he felt that he was pressing to do too much upon his return from the injury, and he has learned from the experience and vows to be a better player because of it in 2019.
"Coming back from the injury, I wanted to be the hero," Schoop said. "I wanted to help my teammates. My team was losing. I was trying to be back and trying to be the guy. With one swing, trying to score eight runs."
Schoop said it was an easy decision for him to pick the Twins when he was non-tendered by the Brewers. He likes the stadium and the fans, he's excited by the young talent on the team, and he has good memories of playing against Rocco Baldelli when the Twins manager was a coach with the Rays.
"I'm really motivated," Schoop said. "Last year is last year. I'm not trying to think about it. I'm trying to think some good things about last year and trying to keep me better. Last year passed already, so I'm thinking good things for 2019, to throw everything bad in 2018 and leave them over there, and come to 2019 better than I was. "I'm a confident guy. I know what I can do. I know what I've done. I know what I can do. I think I still didn't hit my prime yet, so I think I still have a lot more in my tank to prove." (DH Park - MLB.com - January 27, 2019).
Dec 23, 2019: Like Cron, the Tigers were on Schoop’s radar as a potential destination from the start of the offseason. Also like Cron, the chance to set the culture was a big deal to him.
“We have really good talent,” Schoop said. “I think we might be a surprise because we have some good guys. It's just a matter of if we can put it together in Spring Training and help each other out.”
With the dual signings, the Tigers hope they’re starting an upward trajectory after 114 losses in 2019, second most in the franchise’s 119-year history.
“If everybody wants to fight for everybody, we're going to win some ballgames,” Schoop said.
Schoop and Cron became teammates last year in Minnesota, having arrived from different ends of the AL East. The Twins claimed Cron off waivers from Tampa Bay, where Cron had hit 30 homers for a 90-win Rays team before being designated for assignment. Schoop was a free agent, having been traded by the Orioles the previous summer and then non-tendered by the Brewers.
The pair helped the Twins rebound from 84 losses in 2018 to 101 wins in 2019, earning Minnesota its first AL Central title since 2010. Both players eventually found themselves on the open market—Cron non-tendered, Schoop a free agent—as the Twins made way for their young talent.
The Tigers moved in, hoping the duo can have an impact on their increasingly young roster.
The 28-year-old Schoop put up similar numbers to Cron, batting .256 with 23 homers, 59 RBIs and a .777 OPS in 121 games. Much of his damage came away from Target Field; he batted .266 with 16 homers and an .836 OPS in 62 games on the road.
Likewise, the Tigers have no set plan at second base, though No. 11 prospect Willi Castro could end up there eventually if the organization decides to move him from shortstop. (J Beck - MLB.com - Dec 23, 2019)
“Jonathan’s been huge, in the clubhouse, the whole package,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a quiet guy. He loves it around here [Detroit] from what he says. He says he’s enjoying playing here with these guys and likes the staff.
“We’ve got a good player. We knew that going in. We knew it in Spring Training. He’s one of those pleasant guys. And he can hit. He can really hit it a long way.” (Beck - mlb.com - 8/26/2020)
2020 Season: Schoop put up a slash line of .278/.324/.475 with eight home runs with an OPS+ of 115 and finished with a 1.4 fWAR.
2021 Season: The Tigers were perhaps the worst team in baseball for the month of April 2021. They started the season 9-24 and somehow it seemed worse than that. Schoop crawled along in a similar fashion with an ugly first few weeks. In 87 plate appearances through the end of April, Schoop slashed .198/.230/.284 for an OPS+ of 47.
Then as the Tigers pulled out of their death spiral in early May, Schoop also found a groove to hit .275 in May with no power. But it was a sign his bat was perking up.
Then the magic happened. The calendar flipping to June also meant Schoop was going to unleash a reign of terror on opponents pitching for the next four weeks. He was possibly the game’s hottest hitter for a short while. Schoop would smash 10 homers and 8 doubles in June with 27 RBI. His slash for the month in 116 plate appearances was a studly 340/.379/.698.
Schoop obviously couldn’t keep the June heater going…no one expected he could. Schoop returned to the roughly league-average bat he’s usually been in his career for the remainder of ‘21 with one protracted slump in the first few weeks of August.
However, Schoop and the Scott Boras Agency were able to parlay Schoop’s big month, his solid glove, and a sense of him being a “good clubhouse guy” into a two-year extension with Detroit. The Tigers opted for a 2-year/$15M deal instead of shopping Schoop at the trade deadline. (Jon Erkkila - Oct. 26, 2021)
August 2008: Schoop was signed by the Orioles as an international free agent, out of Curacao, by scout Ernst Meyer.
January 13, 2017: Schoop and the Orioles avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract for $3.5 million.
July 31, 2018: The Orioles traded Schoop to the Brewers for RHP Luis Ortiz, infielder Jean Carmona and infielder Jonathan Villar.
November 30, 2018: Schoop elected free agency.
December 6, 2018: Jonathan Schoop signed a one year, $7.5 million contract with Twins.
Oct 31, 2019: Schoop chose free agency.
Dec 21, 2019: The Tigers signed free agent Schoop to a one-year deal worth $6.1 million.
Oct 28, 2020: Schoop elected free agency
Feb 6, 2021: The Tigers re-signed free-agent Schoop to a one-year contract. The deal is for $4.5 million.
Aug 7, 2021: Schoop signs a $15 million two-year extension with Tigers. The deal will pay Schoop $7.5 million in each of the next two seasons with no deferrals. Schoop can opt out of the contract after the 2022 season if he chooses.
The veteran infielder on staying with Detroit: "One of the best days of my life."