Wednesday evening I took advantage of the lack of insufferable summer humidity or torrential afternoon downpours to watch the Bowie Baysox against the New Britain Rock Cats, the Double-A Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. In addition to evaluating several players for the Orioles and Rockies, I wanted to watch Jonathan Schoop, who was on a rehabilitation assignment with the Baysox.
The 23-year-old Schoop has been recovering from a right knee injury much of this season, playing only 9 games for the Orioles thus far in 2015. Schoop has spent the week in Bowie and from this viewing, he is nearly ready to return to the major leagues.
In his first at-bat, Schoop was clearly anxious, taking the first pitch for an obvious ball before popping out to the second baseman on the next pitch, an offering low and inside of the strike zone.
Similarly in his second plate appearance, Schoop watched a first-pitch ball before turning on an 88mph fastball and hitting a sharp ground ball to the third baseman. Schoop ran well down the line, making it a much closer play than the defender expected.
In the 5th inning Schoop came to the plate and showed the reason he is a major leaguer, taking a first-pitch fastball and spanking it well into the trees in left center field. Schoop showed off his outstanding bat speed and the ball sounded like a beautiful explosion off his bat. This was easily one of the farthest home runs I have ever seen hit at Bowie in the 5+ years I have been watching games their home games.
Later in his 4th at-bat of the evening, and as it turns out his final of the game, Schoop finally showed some patience at the plate, seeing seven pitches and working a full count before grounding sharply to third base. Again, he looked slightly over-anxious with the sub-90s velocity, pulling two pitches extremely foul before grounding out. This left Schoop 1-4 on the evening with a home run and two runs batted in before being replaced by Corbin Joseph in the 8th inning.
Defensively it was a rather quiet evening for Schoop at second base, as he caught a pair of popups in the field and impressively turned a 5-4-3 double play in the 4th inning. He did fail to make a difficult play on a severe hop several steps to his right in the 6th inning, although his excellent athleticism allowed him to be in position to make the play in the first place.
Overall I was extremely impressed with Schoop in his 5th game of a rehabilitation assignment. His running ability, agility and pure speed looked solid both defensively and running the bases. In addition Schoop showed off both his power and bat speed at the plate. He could still use 10-20 more at-bats to help regain his rhythm and timing, but Schoop should be more than ready to return and contribute to Baltimore’s lineup early next week.