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Article: Report From The Fort: Looking For A Bounceback (Part 3)

nick gordon jonathan schoop
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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 08:31 PM

FORT MYERS - Crummy years can lead to new opportunities. For two of the Twins middle infielders, that has been the case. One would’ve never ended up with the Twins had he not had a horrendous year. Another is taking it as an opportunity to grow and mature.

Jonathan Schoop
This time last year, Jonathan Schoop was on a path towards being a superstar. He had swatted 72 home runs over the previous three years, averaged a .280 batting average, a .795 OPS, all while playing a strong second base and was just 26-years-old. But on April 13 he suffered an oblique injury. It healed over the next month and he returned to the field, but not to form. But not because is still hurt. This is the third part of a three-part series of interviews with Twins bounceback candidates. Part 1 | Part 2  
“After I came back from the injury, I was good,” claims Schoop. “I’ve got no excuses. I was good.” But there were after effects unrelated to the pain.

“Everybody told me that my swing changed a little bit because of the injury,” says Schoop. “But I didn’t feel it. If I’m honest with you, I didn’t feel nothing. So I feel strong, but they say I switched something because my body made me switch.”

He never did get back on track. Whatever the issue, it robbed the right-handed batting Schoop of batting average, power and the ability to hit southpaws. The problem got even worse after a trade deadline move to the Brewers, which meant leaving the Orioles, the only organization he had ever known.

“It was tough,” Schoop revealed. “I’ve been with the Orioles since I was 16. Like eight, 10 years, so it was tough to be traded. I got better. I’m a better player because of that. I’m a better man because of that tough time that I’ve been through, after being traded and everything.

So the offseason was spent working, including a lot of core work, which obviously makes sense when trying to get past the aftereffects of an oblique injury. He thinks his swing is fine now. But his focus for spring training is on building relationships with his new teammates. “Baseball is a good sport,” Schoop says. “You get to know people. You get to be friends. Sometimes you get to be brothers with them."

The hope is that better health, a tinkered with swing, and a strong team will help Schoop return to the player who was headed for stardom this time last year.

Nick Gordon

Nick Gordon had something to prove last year, and for a while, he did. After limping to the end of the 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga, Gordon returned and conquered, hitting .333 with a .906 OPS over the first two months. The 23-year-old was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, where everything fell apart.

“It’s about more than just your talent,” reflected Gordon, when I asked him about the experience. Gordon hit just .212 over 99 games in Rochester, with just a .524 OPS. “I can definitely say, I feel like I have some stuff to prove.”

Gordon’s prospect status suffered as a result of his extended slump. He doesn’t let that affect his view of his future. “I definitely know I can play the game. I don’t think that is something that is questionable,” he says.

He is rededicating himself to better prepare for the higher level of baseball he experienced. “That’s something I’m definitely more excited about: keeping my routine going better, and preparing myself as a professional,” Gordon says.

Gordon speaks like a person who knows he got knocked around a little bit by the advancement in levels. But he also sees that as part of the process of getting to the big leagues. “Guys go through things,” he admits. “Great players go through things like that. It definitely humbles you.”

Perhaps Gordon’s struggles last year, and his resulting attitude, are all part of a ballplayer's maturity process.

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#2 LylesCrocodiles

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 09:34 PM

Would anyone be surprised if Schoop completely failed? He seems a safe bet to be a league average player. And if he returns to form it will be a heck of a signing.

I’m not giving up on Gordon but I have zero expectations for him in 2019. If he plays a significant role it means Polanco and or Schoop are hurt. Or Gordon has played his way past one of them on the depth chart. I’m not seeing that happen
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#3 DocBauer

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 12:37 AM

Schoop had an amazing 2017. Everyone wants to talk about that vs his "collapse" in 2018 due to all the things mentioned above. But his 2 previous seasons to 2017 were really good. I expect a big bounce back season. My only problem is, do we find a way to keep him beyond this season. Gordon has real talent and potential. He's just not fast tracking the way we all hoped. If he needs a full season of AAA, or close to it, should we just dismiss him because he isn't the stud we hoped a 1st round pick should be? Isnt the payoff more important than the original investment?
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#4 h2oface

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 05:33 AM

So many had a poor year. So why can't they all just have a good year this year, right? What are the odds?

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#5 bighat

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 06:07 AM

 

Schoop had an amazing 2017. Everyone wants to talk about that vs his "collapse" in 2018 due to all the things mentioned above. But his 2 previous seasons to 2017 were really good. I expect a big bounce back season. My only problem is, do we find a way to keep him beyond this season. Gordon has real talent and potential. He's just not fast tracking the way we all hoped. If he needs a full season of AAA, or close to it, should we just dismiss him because he isn't the stud we hoped a 1st round pick should be? Isnt the payoff more important than the original investment?

 

Schoop's "Terrible Year" in 2018 had him batting .233 with 21 HRs. Brian Dozier last year hit .215 with 21 HRs. Schoop is entering his age 27 year, while Dozier is 31...the bottom line: the Twins improved the offense at the position.

 

Schoop could just be the steal of this free agent off-season! His 2017 stats are incredible - he also played 162 games that year, and played 160 the year before. If he's healthy we should all be very, very excited about this guy.

 

I also am surprised to see how much negativity there is surrounding Gordon. Just a year ago, before "Royce Fever" we were pretty giddy about this guy. He had a bad 2nd half in AAA, that's it. He seems to be saying all the right things. Give him a chance to go out there and prove himself, I look forward to seeing him up in the bigs this year with the Twins.

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#6 rdehring

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 08:50 AM

There is no reason not to expect Schoop to have a good year.Maybe not 2017 good, but certainly as good as the two years before that.If he does, it would go a long way towards putting the Twins in the playoff picture.

 

My excitement about Gordon began to wane after his second half troubles in 2017.With 2018 in AAA now behind him, he is in the 'show me' category.My expectations don't include him as a starter for the Twins...not in 2019, or beyond.Maybe he will make me change those expectations, much as Stewart has made me re-think my opinions of the last few years.

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#7 MMMordabito

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:13 AM

Is Schoop going to be QO eligible after 2019? If he has an AS-type bounce back season, is that going to be on the table?

 

I'm in the "show me" camp as well with Gordon, but if he answers the call, the Twins could have a good problem on their hands and positive tough decisions to make.

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#8 howieramone2

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:46 AM

I thought about a QO for Schoop also. My guess is, it really depends on how close Gordon and Lewis are. Schoop has got to be one of the best pick ups this offseason. 

 

We picked up 3 starters, 2 placeholders in Parker and Perez, and depth in Torreyes. Free agency is more than just signing the most expensive thing on the menu.

Edited by howieramone2, 21 February 2019 - 09:48 AM.

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#9 JLease

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:00 AM

Nick Gordon had a rough time in AAA...but last year was the first time in his career he repeated a level, even for a little bit. He'd previously moved quickly through the minors and had success at every level. Even in his first stint at AA he played pretty well, so struggling in his first crack at AAA shouldn't be a disqualifier.

 

He's far from old. He's still got tools that should play well in MLB. There's a real chance that he just needed a reset and restart. Looking forward to seeing how he deals with the adversity of a rough year. He's still a talent. He's always been significantly younger than his competition. Way too soon to give up on Gordon for the next shiny object.

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#10 jrod23

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 12:12 PM

The Schoop signing is a win/win.We needed a holdover, and he could be that, plus some.The "plus some" could be of value as we make a playoff push this season, OR it could be of value if we are far from making a playoff run when we'd become sellers.This made me think of the Shannon Stewart pick up we had back in '03.Granted that was a trade (for Kielty, and WOW what a steal), but Schoop could make a great impact.I'm not expecting that .300+ average, but I expect production and contribution at a high level.

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#11 bobs

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 12:21 PM

 

Schoop had an amazing 2017. Everyone wants to talk about that vs his "collapse" in 2018 due to all the things mentioned above. But his 2 previous seasons to 2017 were really good. I expect a big bounce back season. My only problem is, do we find a way to keep him beyond this season. Gordon has real talent and potential. He's just not fast tracking the way we all hoped. If he needs a full season of AAA, or close to it, should we just dismiss him because he isn't the stud we hoped a 1st round pick should be? Isnt the payoff more important than the original investment?

Couldn't agree more.Gordon is....22?23?We should be a LONG way from giving up on him.


#12 birddog

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 12:30 PM

I really liked the Schoop signing and believe he will rebound in a big way. I am very skeptical about Gordon's chances of becoming anything more than just a utility infielder. Even if he starts out hot, odds are he will collapse as he has done way too often. Very tough call on draft day but Aaron Nola and Kyle Freeland--drafted two and three picks after Gordon--would leave Twins fans with no doubts like Gordon has. We all hope and pray he proves us wrong, but that doesn't make all of us believers in him.


#13 LylesCrocodiles

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 07:59 PM

For clarification I don’t see Gordon doing anything for the twins in 2019. He’s still a fine prospect. But if he’s contributing this year something bad has happened to Polanco or Schoop.

#14 Linus

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 08:05 PM

3 stories on bounce back candidates pretty much covers the whole team. Perhaps we should get players we don’t have to wish and hope that they will contribute. I don’t get this FO

#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 08:09 PM

I love the Schoop signing. There's almost no down side. I mean, obviously if he gets hurt, that would be, but can't predict that. If he is just what he was last year, that wouldn't be good, but almost a break-even for the team at the position. And he's got just a ton of offensive and defensive upside. WAy more than LeMaheiu, for sure. 

 

As for Gordon, he's got to prove himself in AAA, but he was really good when they asked him to return to AA to start last season and did add some power there (which is why he (and LaMonte Wade) went back there. He is so impressive to talk to. The value of his genetics comes in at a time like this. Dee and Tom both had rough spots and could counsel him. Nick's very mature when it comes to baseball (mentally). He's just got to show that he can hold up physically over 140 games (much less 160). The Schoop signing allows them to be more patient, and that's OK.

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#16 caninatl04

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 01:13 PM

 

Couldn't agree more.Gordon is....22?23?We should be a LONG way from giving up on him.

 

I apologies in advance for annoyingly using all caps but, to agree with "bobs":

 

GORDON IS 23 AND IS IN AAA!

 

'19 isn't yet a "show me" year.Maybe, Maybe '20 when he'll be an ancient 25 years old.

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