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Jonathan Schoop

Jonathan Schoop doesn't have to look far to see motivation to make an impression and improve as the Orioles' everyday second baseman. The 22-year-old from Curacao is one of five young infielders from the Netherlands Antilles playing in the major leagues. And Schoop, ever the competitor, has never liked losing to any of them. "I'm a competitive guy," Schoop said. "I don't like to lose, but I enjoy the game, too. You might see me out there laughing, but I'm serious, too. I want to win every time I go out there." Schoop, signed by the Orioles in 2008, spent a childhood playing with and against a who's-who of baseball's biggest young stars. He developed into a major league talent on the same fields as fellow Curacaoan infielders Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers, Didi Gregorius of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves, and Aruban-born shortstop Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox. "Nobody wanted to lose, and everybody competed," Schoop said. "We'd play against each other, and we'd try to win. You get better, then after that, you're still friends. You talk about how you can get better." Schoop watched with particular interest as Bogaerts helped Boston to last year's World Series. He said he was happy for his peer, but used it as motivation. "You see one guy you play against, and see how good he does it in the playoffs. For sure, it motivated me," Schoop said. "Of course, I want to bring playoffs back to the Orioles, and we have a pretty good team to do it." If Schoop is looking outward across the league's landscape for a benchmark of success, he only has to look across the clubhouse to learn about life in the majors. Schoop and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado were teammates on their rise through the minor leagues, and they became good friends along the way, Schoop said. The pair was a double-play combo in 2012, before Machado was called up to the Orioles from Double-A Bowie. "When he came up in 2012, the way he handled it, the way he played -- he played really good," Schoop said. "That motivated me, too. Now, I'm with him in the clubhouse, and he teaches me, too, what to expect because he was there already. He teaches me how I need to handle myself, how I need to do things. He helps me a lot." Schoop's baseball upbringing -- both in Curacao and within the Orioles organization -- has created a player poised to win the affection of the fans in Birdland. "Even if I don't get a base hit, I try to beat you in different ways," Schoop said. "I try to beat you with my defense. Some days you have everything -- you get your hits, your defense is good. But one thing you can [always] do is give your effort, and I'm that type of player. I give my effort every day. Every time, I leave everything out there, and I'm going to enjoy the game, too." -- Jon Meoli

Benny Sieu / USA Today Sports
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