Orioles top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop returned to Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday after playing on the world’s stage as part of an upstart Netherlands team that made it to the World Baseball Classic semifinals before losing to the eventual champions, the Dominican Republic.
“I was happy. We did a good job. We showed the world that we could play baseball, compete at a high level,” said Schoop, who is from the island of Curacao, a constituent country of the Netherlands. “I think we did pretty good.”
Schoop, a 21-year-old middle infielder ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s third-best prospect, played strong defense and batted .214 with a .313 on-base percentage in eight games. He had two homers, including a three-run shot in his club’s upset of Cuba.
“It was an exciting moment,” he said. “It was a 1-0 pitch and I wanted to get a good pitch to hit and I did it.”
Overall, Schoop said it was a tremendous opportunity not only to represent The Netherlands, but to showcase his talents and to help him improve his game. He played 124 games at Double-A Bowie last year, hitting .245 with 14 homers, and likely is headed for Triple-A Norfolk to start the season.
“I think I grew a lot as a player because a lot of fans were there, a lot of pressure, the excitement from the game,” he said. “[There were] more good pitchers. I think it was a good experience for me.”
There was a downside, too. He was away from his own team for nearly three weeks -- which would have allowed him to work with the big league coaching staff and the Orioles players.
“Yeah, I think I missed a lot of things, but I think I grew, too, the experience that I get over there, too,” he said. “I missed a lot of games and maybe they can’t watch me over here, but it was good.”
When asked if he would play in the World Baseball Classic again, he said, “We’ll see.”
Schoop said he would love to get into the Grapefruit League game today against the Toronto Blue Jays, though Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he’d likely give Schoop at least one day’s rest before using him.
“I am ready to go. I sleep on the plane and if I need to come into the game today, I will, too,” he said. “I am ready.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun