Machado, Schoop get on-the-job training
Top infield prospects get chance to work in Major League camp
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Those curious about the makeup of top infield prospect Manny Machado should schedule a trip to Miami, where the 19-year-old Machado -- the Orioles' first-round Draft pick in 2010 -- used his bonus money to buy his mother, Rosa Nunez, a house.
Or watch Machado arrive in the morning with fellow top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop, a 20-year-old Curacao-born player who hitches a ride because he doesn't have a car.
The pair, who had already been working out at the Orioles' Minor League facility, now shower and dress in the team's auxiliary clubhouse after being summoned to Major League camp Tuesday afternoon.
Machado and Schoop thought they were coming over for a routine meeting. Orioles manager Buck Showalter had other plans.
"They're going to play," Showalter said of the pair of young infielders, who practiced with the big-league team Thursday and will remain in camp for the foreseeable future, including this week's intrasquad games.
"You give them as much as they can take," Showalter added. "There are so many coaches here that have been with them. It's fun to watch them. It's as much for us as it is for them. It makes us feel good about the future when you see LJ [Hoes] and Xavier [Avery] and those two guys and Dylan [Bundy]. As I've gotten older in life, I'm able to take in the moment a little bit."
Schoop and Machado didn't hesitate to take in that moment, with Schoop admitting he was "honestly, a little bit nervous" and Machado saying he was more excited than anything in taking the field alongside the Orioles' starters.
"We would have liked to be here in camp with a big league invite, but we're here now and we're going to take advantage of it," Machado said of the pair's mindset.
"As long as we stay here, we are going to learn every day and take advantage of these veteran guys and [Orioles] Hall of Fame players like [Mike Bordick] and all these coaches. I'm just excited to see how I match up against all these guys and the guys you see on TV, to play against them."
Schoop is familiar with Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, having played on Roberts' team in the Gulf Coast League when Roberts was rehabbing, and said he was immediately put at ease by some of the veteran players. Among them was center fielder Adam Jones, who knows a few words of Schoop's native language, Papiamento, and shortstop J.J. Hardy, who went out of his way to catch up with Machado on Thursday.
"First of all, you don't put [Machado and Schoop] on too big a pedestal,'' said Showalter who originally had the pair on a field with the veterans, and then -- realizing how it might look to those fighting for a roster spot -- moved them to a different infield.
"We have so many guys who want to make their paths easier, instead of the normal hazing, stupid, happy [stuff] that goes on," Showalter said. "You see [catcher Matt] Wieters go out of his way. Wieters has something in common with them [being a hyped top-prospect]. He wants to make their path easier."
Machado and Schoop, ranked the Orioles' Nos. 1 and 3 prospects by MLB.com, each finished last season with High-A Frederick and have grown closer this spring, playing Nintendo games and sharing their first taste of big league camp, an adjustment made easier by being together.
"It would be tougher if I was alone," said Schoop, who hit .290 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs in 128 games split between two levels last season. "Compared to last year, I feel so much better. Not physically, I feel better mentally. Last year, I didn't know how to handle certain things, it was my first full season."
Machado, ranked MLB.com's sixth-best prospect entering the season, hit .257 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 101 games and said the toughest part about last year was getting back into his groove at the plate after missing time with a left knee injury.
Asked where he would like to end the season, Machado said: "Nothing's out of reach. Mostly, my goal is to stay healthy. If I can stay healthy, I can end up wherever my talent leads to me to. I just want to play every day."
Schoop bounced around this offseason, spending time working out in Panama and the Dominican Republic, among other locations, while Machado worked out in Miami with a group that included Major Leaguers Alex Rodriguez, Jon Jay, Yonder Alonso and Andruw Jones.
"They had a great look about them," Showalter said after observing Machado and Schoop during Wednesday's fundamentals. "You can tell they get along real well. They have a lot in common and they are well thought of."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.