Manager Buck Showalter stood in the Orioles dugout Tuesday night talking to player development director Brian Graham about the distinct sound that the bat makes when Jonathan Schoop squares up a pitch.
Moments later, Schoop sent a pitch into the Reds bullpen for a solo home run in the Orioles’ 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
“You stand around the cage, and there are certain guys who have that different sound off their bat,” Showalter said “About that time I said that, it was, ‘Yeah, that sound,’ as it was leaving the park.”
In the Orioles’ 6-0 victory over the Reds on Wednesday, Schoop bettered himself. He sent another blast into the Reds bullpen that was estimated by ESPN Info at 446 feet, the longest home run at Camden Yards this season.
The Orioles have one game remaining on their 11-game homestand, and Schoop is batting .300 (9-for-30) with two home runs, three doubles and six RBIs in that span.
Schoop now has 14 home runs this season -- including six since Aug. 1 -- and the Orioles have won 12 of the 13 games in which Schoop has hit a home run. Five of his homers, including Wednesday’s, have given the Orioles the lead.
“I think it is finding good pitches to hit and don’t chase as much,” Schoop said. “You are going to chase, but try to chase a little bit less. And find your swing and swing at strikes, try to see the ball up and put a good swing on it.”
There’s no secret that Schoop, 23, still has a lot to learn. But watching him grow over the course of this season -- defensively, he’s solid and playing second base with great confidence -- has to be promising as the Orioles chase a postseason berth in the season’s final month.
“You never give in and say, that’s good enough,” Showalter said. “We’re all trying to make somebody a perfect player, and that doesn’t exist. It would fall under the … Captain Obvious category that ‘Hey Jon, you really can’t swing at those pitches.’ Well, yeah.
"It’s so easy to sit in the ivory tower and say those things. You get in the box, and your reaction time to catch up with a 94 mph fastball is why you swing at that. …You can’t hit both of them. You have to box one of them out.”
* It didn’t take long for both on-deck circles to be removed after catcher Caleb Joseph took a scary fall after slipping on the Orioles' on-deck circle while chasing a fly ball in foul ground.
As Joseph gave chase, he slipped, fell on his backside and into the photo pit next to the Orioles dugout. It definitely looked painful, but Joseph stayed in the game.
Within the next inning, the circles were gone from in front of both dugouts. There’s no doubt Showalter had some say in that.
As for Joseph, he said he was fine.
“I’m good,” Joseph said. “I’ve some cushion in the buttocks area, as Forrest Gump would say.”
* The Orioles organizational minor league Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards will be announced Thursday. Interestingly enough, the winners likely won't be among those regarded as the organization's top prospects.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman has spent most of the season at the major league level. Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey both dealt with injuries, and left-hander Eduardo Rodrguez was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the trade for left-hander Andrew Miller.
Instead, position players like first baseman Christian Walker and outfielder Dariel Alvarez have had breakout years. Neither was among the organization's top 10 prospects at the beginning of the season.
But both are examples of superb player development. Walker didnt enter the organization with the reputation of being a power hitter, but he had 26 home runs and 96 RBIs between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, all while making tremendous strides on defense at first base.
Alvarez, a Cuban defector who was projected to be a corner outfielder, showed that he could excel as a center fielder. He already has the best outfield arm in the organization, and in his first full professional season in the United States, he hit .306 with 15 home runs and 87 RBIs between Bowie and Norfolk.
Right-hander Tyler Wilson, who also wasn't regarded as a top prospect before the season, is the favorite for the Pitcher of the Year award after going 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 28 starts at Bowie and Norfolk.
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