Baltimore Orioles prospect Jonathon Schoop [Pronounced Scope] started out his baseball life early as he won the Little League World Series championship in 2004 with the Curacao national team. The mindset he said was as if he was playing pro baseball.
"They teach you like you are a big leaguer," Schoop said. "It was a big thing man I would love to go back just to see everything again."
The current Keys second baseman added that the league can be a good evaluator on if a player can actually succeed at a higher level. The skills can show early he says and it's a big deal to play well.
Schoop, 19, is considered a top ten prospect in the Orioles organization. He will be attending the futures game July 10 and play against teammate and top prospect Manny Machado. Schoop doesn't see too many bragging rights between the two and just wants to have fun.
"I am not really thinking of it as a competition," Schoop said. "I know we are both going to go over there to do our best. It's not really a competition for the fact that we are coming right back here to play with each other. We are going to play hard and have fun but you need to play the game right."
Schoop only played six games for Frederick last season and hit .238 with three RBI. In 2011 the Curacao native has a .260 average with eight RBI in 19 games for Frederick. He believes there is no difference between this year and the previous one for him.
"It is not that big of a difference you just have to be able to play with smarter guys," Schoop said. "The pitching is better and the ball moves more but baseball is baseball and you are just going to be playing with better players."
Schoop is considered their other short stop prospect but because of Machado he has moved around the infield. He played third base for Delmarva but moved back when Machado injured his knee cap and currently plays second base for Frederick. Schoop feels he can play any infield position when it is needed and loves the challenge.
"I think I am good enough to play everywhere but shortstop you have to cover more range," Schoop said. "Third base is a little bit easier because you don't need to guard a lot of space but you need to be ready because the ball comes fast. Second base is similar to shortstop but in the other way so it comes easy for me."
The 19-year-old has walked only 22 times in 70 games this season and is on pace for only 44 walks. Schoop says he is more of an aggressive hitter because he looks for the fastball especially early in the count. He believes the fastball is the best pitch to hit because pitchers can get ahead of him early and can come at him with the off-speed pitches that are harder to hit.
Schoop doesn't see it as a bad thing that he is an aggressive hitter because he knows he is an overall good hitter and can hit the ball to all fields. He does realize that patience at the plate is important and its something that he has to work on to get better.
"I think I am aggressive and I know my strike zone but I know I have to work on patience," Schoop said. "Sometimes I can over think and just do too much and I just have to be a little bit more patient."
Keys manager Orlando Gomez agrees but realizes the fact that he is still learning the game and knows he will get better.
"Young players like to swing a lot," Gomez said. "I don't have a doubt in my mind about him and I know he is going to do well."
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter was impressed with Schoop Monday night and believes he has a bright baseball future ahead of him.
"Showalter liked when he swung in the cage, his actions and the way he goes after the game," Gomez said. He just liked everything about him in general."
Schoop did not feel any extra pressure with Showalter there Monday night and says there is no pressure about playing the game as a top 10 prospect.
"When I put pressure on myself I know I am going to fail," Schoop said. I just play the game to have fun and if I can continue to do that I know I will be successful."
The top prospect hits in the number two spot ahead of Machado, who bats third, and loves his position in the lineup because he gets great looks from pitchers and overall feels comfortable at the top of the order.
"Pitchers do not want to walk me to get to Machado," Schoop said. It is not only Machado or myself but because of [Tyler] Townsend at the heart of the order. We have a lot of good hitters. They don't throw me easy pitches all the time but they don't want to walk me either."
Older brother Sharlon Schoop plays in the San Francisco Giants organization and Jonathon talks to his older brother frequently about ways to get better on the field.
"He has played in Double-A Richmond for the last two years and he just keeps telling me that the pitching is going to get better and you have to keep getting better too," Schoop said. "I just need to continue to make adjustments. The overall game of baseball is the same but adjustments are so important to continue to be successful for a long period of time."