SARASOTA, Fla. -- While Orioles manager Buck Showalter has made it no secret that he thinks the World Baseball Classic poses a lot of challenges for Major League Spring Training, when it comes to 21-year-old Jonathan Schoop, there's been a lot of upside.
"I think with Jonathan, it's nothing but good," Showalter said of the Orioles' top position player prospect, who has helped put Kingdom of the Netherlands on the brink of a semifinal berth. "And from an organizational standpoint, a lot of people are seeing what a good player and prospect he is."
Schoop had a three-run home run in the sixth inning early Friday morning and finished a triple away from the cycle as the Dutch completed a 6-2 win over Cuba in the first game of the second round at Tokyo Dome.
In his first big league camp for just a few days before leaving for the Classic, Scoop has been the Netherlands' starting second baseman -- although his future position in the big leagues is still up for debate. Showalter reiterated Friday he thinks Schoop can play shortstop or third base, as well.
"He's going to be able to play infield in the big leagues," said Showalter, who dismissed the notion of Schoop projecting as a potential corner outfielder. "He's got plenty of arm strength, he's got good hands, he's got good habits. You put him in a foot race, I can tell you five or six infielders in the big leagues that he's a comparable runner with. But they are not going to hit potentially the home runs he's going to hit."
Showalter has been getting daily updates from Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens, and the O's skipper said when Schoop returns, he will remain in Major League camp for a while.
"He will get some reps here," Showalter said. "I think as much for our sake as his. We miss him here. There's a lot of times I'd love to play him. ... Nothing wrong with him going right from here into the season. Make sure his knees feel good and everything. I don't know what [the organization's] plan is for him, whether they are going to put him in Double-A or Triple-A, they will figure it out."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less