11/08/12 11:45 AM ET
Infield prospect Schoop gains wisdom in AFL
By Jim Gintonio / Special to MLB.com
Jonathan Schoop figures some were watching him in 2004 when he helped Curacao win the Little League World Series -- and those who did probably are not too surprised he has evolved into the No. 3 prospect for the Orioles.
Schoop, who can play third base or shortstop, turned 21 in October. He was not drafted but signed with Baltimore four years ago. His progress has been marked with improvement at every stop, and he said he likes having a tag as a top prospect.
"It feels good, because I've come a long way, and to be honored like that gives you more incentive to work hard and to achieve goals," Schoop said. "When you achieve, don't stop. Keep going."
Schoop is having a solid Arizona Fall League season with the Mesa Solar Sox and played in the Rising Stars Game. He was hitting .288 at the outset of Week 5, with two home runs, nine RBIs and two stolen bases, including a theft of home.
Schoop, whose brother Sharlon has played seven seasons in the Minor Leagues and is in the Royals' organization, says he has a lot more to learn and he's willing to take whatever time is needed to further prepare himself.
"I've got to work on everything, step my game up offensively, defensively, baserunning, get more speed on the bases, too," Schoop said.
"You want to improve everything. You don't want to stay in the same position. You want to become a better baseball player."
Solar Sox manager Rodney Linares looks at him as a kid with unlimited potential.
"Schoop is one of those high-ceiling guys," said Linares. "He's really young, and you can tell at times, but ability-wise he's up there. He's got good soft hands; big, strong kid. He's driving the ball, the ball jumps off his bat. I really like Schoop."
Schoop's talent in the field would seem to bolster his chances of being kept at shortstop, but Linares sees him as more of a third baseman because of his power at the plate.
"He's got a good, strong arm, and again, he's so young, but at the same time, he's so mature as a ballplayer," Linares said. "He only needs at-bats and repetition in the Minor Leagues, and he'll eventually get to the big leagues in the next year or so."
Making adjustments is something Schoop thrives on and something he had to do at Double-A Bowie in 2012 after three seasons in Rookie and Class A ball.
"Baseball is making adjustments," he said. "If you can make adjustments, you're going to be good in baseball. Then I sit down and think about my approach and make adjustments, and you get better."
Schoop admits as a younger player he sometimes didn't heed advice in that area.
"They tried to teach me long time ago, but when you're young, you don't get it," he said. "Now I'm a little bit older and I get it on what making adjustments means.
"Before, they were teaching me the same thing, but now I'm thinking. When I was kid, I didn't know how to make [adjustments], because I wanted to step in there and just swing, but now I get it, and I understand it."
Orioles hitters in the Fall League
L.J. Hoes, who was hitting .235 early in Week 5 of the AFL, was a third-round pick (81st overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. The outfielder has shown marked improvement, hitting .300 in 82 games at Triple-A Norfolk this year. He has some speed but needs work on his basestealing, as he was caught seven times in 15 attempts this season. Baseball America named him the No. 5 prospect in the organization this season.
Brian Ward caught 50 games for Double-A Bowie in 2012, hitting .217. He was not drafted and played collegiately at Lewis-Clark State. In the Fall League through four weeks, he appeared in 10 games, hitting .259 with two RBIs.
Orioles pitchers in the Fall League
Mike Belfiore was a compensation A round pick (45th overall) of the D-backs in 2009 and was traded to the Orioles this season, when he had his best campaign in the Minors. He was 5-1 with two saves for Bowie in Double-A with a 2.85 ERA. He struck out 50 in 47 1/3 innings. In Belfiore's first nine Fall League games, he had pitched nine innings and struck out nine.
Chris Petrini had Tommy John surgery in 2007 and signed with the Orioles in '10. The left-hander was promoted to Triple-A last season, pitching in 24 games with a 6-3 record as a reliever, one save and a 2.62 ERA. He has a 2.08 ERA in nine appearances in the Fall League through four weeks.
Clay Schrader, a right-hander who was tabbed in the 10th round (298th overall) in 2010, has been used only a reliever since signing. This past season, he was 1-1 for Class A Frederick and 1-0 in Double-A at Bowie, where he had a 2.74 ERA and one save. In Schrader's three Minor League seasons, he is 5-4 with a 1.78 ERA and 11 saves. His initial Fall League outings were not productive -- 7 2/3 innings, eight earned runs and 11 walks.
Mike Wright was a third-round Draft pick (94th overall) in 2011 and split the 2012 season between Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. In a dozen starts at the higher level, he was 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA. He has not been able to find success as a starter in the Fall League, where he started 0-4 record with a 9.00 ERA, allowing four home runs in 13 innings.
Jim Gintonio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.