Jonathan Schoop plays on a low-Class A Delmarva team stacked with shortstops, so he’s making the most of his opportunity while top Baltimore Orioles prospect Manny Machado is out with a left knee injury.
Schoop (pronounced Scope) is a 19-year-old from Curacao who was on the 2004 Little League World Series champion. He’s hitting .318 with a .369 on-base percentage and .496 slugging percentage for the Shorebirds. Schoop was primarily playing third base until Machado, who is expected to be out another week or two, hurt his knee while running in a game May 5. Middle infielder Mychal Givens, another top-10 Orioles prospect, also will play a couple of times a week at shortstop.
”You can tell [Schoop] was a shortstop coming up because he’s rangy and has the hands [to play short],” Delmarva Manager Ryan Minor said Tuesday after a 7-3 loss to the Nationals’ South Atlantic League affiliate at Hagerstown, Md. “We moved him to third because we think he’ll fill out a little bit and hit with some power.”
According to Baseball America, Machado is the organization’s No. 1 prospect. Givens is seventh and Schoop 10th, and all three are listed as shortstops.
”I think you learn from everybody — not [just] from Machado and Givens,” said Schoop, whose older brother Sharlon is an infielder in the San Francisco Giants system and played for the Dutch World Baseball Classic team in 2009. “You learn from your coaches, your team, the other teams. I can watch the other guy and learn. That’s it.”
Minor, the man who played third base the night Cal Ripken sat out to end his consecutive games streak at 2,632, said deciding between the three potential shortstops is a good problem to have.
“It all depends on what moves we have and what transactions,” Minor said. “ If we move Machado or Schoop up somewhere else, obviously they’ll get a chance to play short, and then that leaves Givens here with us. It’s one of those things that’s out of my hands.
“We're happy to have three guys who can play shortstop without it being a utility guy. We’re fortunate enough to know every day coming in we don’t have to worry about that position.”
Schoop was making a strong impression at third base, which he says, “I think it's more easy [than shortstop] because you don't need to cover a lot of ground. But you still need to be prepared for every pitch.”
Meanwhile, as the Shorebirds’ third-place hitter, Schoop also is gaining comfort at the plate.
”He doesn’t panic up there,” Minor said. “He has quick hands, good strike-zone knowledge and uses all fields.”