By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
2:15 PM EDT, March 19, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After playing a strong World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands, Orioles top position prospect Jonathan Schoop is slated to return to major league camp on Tuesday, where manager Buck Showalter said he intends to get a few more looks at the 21-year-old before optioning him to the minors.
“I’d like to get him some at bats here to take a little look at him,” Showalter said Thursday. “We’ve gotten very few peeks at him.”
Schoop, who tied for the Netherlands team lead with 2 homers and 6 RBIs in eight WBC games, initially started at second base for the Netherlands, then moves to third when Jurickson Profar joined the team.
But when the season starts, he’s likely to be the starting shortstop at Triple-A Norfolk, Showalter said.
“I think he’s going to play shortstop, but I think he’ll play all over,” Showalter said. “You can project him at any of three infield position. [Director of Player Development] Brian [Graham] thinks he can turn a double play as good as anyone we’ve got. He’s got plenty of arms strength to play third base. … I think his bat is going to play up. He’s still a growing boy.”
Originally signed out of Curacao as a shortstop, Schoop played second base for most of the past two minor league seasons because he was paired with Manny Machado, who played short. Machado has exclusively played third base since his August call-up to the big leagues and is unofficially entrentched there for now.
The ultimate decision on Schoop will lie with Graham and executive vice president Dan Duquette, but combine his performance on an international stage with a strong offseason playing in the Arizona Fall League – he recorded a .270/.446/.429 batting line in 21 games for the Mesa Solar Sox – and Schoop has gained some valuable experience.
“It can only be a good thing,” Showalter said of Schoop playing in the WBC. “I tell you what. I’m not going to say he was the talk of the [Arizona Fall] League. There were a lot of guys, but he really had a good fall league. I know some scout friends who saw him who were really impressed with him. It’s kind of that position he ends up playing. I don’t think we’re in the position right now.”
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