A lifelong dream wasn't fulfilled when Jonathan Schoop and Tim Bascom stepped out onto the infield grass at Camden Yards and were greeted by a thundering ovation from the Orioles faithful. However, being named Baltimore's 2011 organizational players of the year will be a fond memory for the two prospects to carry on their journey toward the major leagues.
Schoop, an infielder, and Bascom, a right-handed starter, were honored before Monday's game against the Boston Red Sox. Schoop won the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award and Bascom was the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
"It's an honor to be in the same breath as Jim Palmer, a Hall-of-Famer," Bascom, a 26-year-old prospect who hopes to make it to the big leagues as quickly as possible, said. "I'm going to give it the best shot I can next year to be here."
Despite going 10-4 with a 2.97 ERA for Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, the team's 2007 fourth-round draft pick was a bit of a surprise selection because of his age. He admitted it himself, but said, "At the same time, I pitched well. I knew I was in the running."
Schoop was no shocker, though, as the 19-year-old didn't look his age while playing in the infield for Frederick and Bowie. Often playing second base next to Manny Machado, he edged his friend and highly-touted double-play partner and other prospects.
"There's a lot of good players," the Curacao native said. "This means a lot to me."
Schoop, who will represent the Netherlands at this year's baseball World Cup, batted a combined .290 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs for the Keys and the Baysox.
"Schoop did a lot of good things. He swung the bat well, even in the playoffs, too," said Frederick manager Orlando Gomez, who was named the organization's Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award after leading the Keys to the Carolina League championship. "But the key was that he turned some great double plays. … He was outstanding."
Schoop can play shortstop and third base, too.
"Just put me in the lineup," he said.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he hasn't had a chance to watch Bascom pitch, but he raved about Schoop's awareness, comparing him to a savvy point guard in basketball.
"We're all excited about him," Showalter said. "He did real well at a level that 19-year-olds don't necessarily do well. We're excited about both of those guys. [It was] well-deserved."
No child left behind
Delmarva reliever Cameron Roth joined Schoop and Bascom in the pre-game festivities at the middle of the diamond. The 22-year-old lefty was this year's recipient of the Elrod Hendricks Minor League Community Service Award.
"Having this opportunity, really, is something to be thankful for. It's an honor to be here in this park with all these great guys and where these great guys have played," said Roth.
Roth said he enjoys making appearances in the community and he was often seen signing autographs before games.
"Signing autographs, there's never a child left behind," he said.
Roth, a 29th-round pick in 2010, went 3-2 with a 5.05 ERA in 32 appearances for the Shorebirds.
Wieters says Matusz will bounce back
It has been a disastrous season for 24-year-old starter Brian Matusz, who fought through an intercostal muscle strain, was shuffled between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk, and now stands to be on the wrong side of baseball history. Matusz (1-9) has a 10.69 ERA, which is the highest ever for a pitcher who has made at least 10 starts in a season.
His battery-mate, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, wishes he could have done more to help.
"Everyone in this clubhouse has had some struggles in their career," he said. "You can definitely see that he's upset about how the year has gone, but he has showed up every day ready to work."
Matusz made his final start of 2011 on Sunday, allowing six runs, including two homers, in five innings as the Orioles lost to the Detroit Tigers, 10-6. Afterward, the left-hander called this "the hardest year of my life." But Wieters said Matusz showed improvement after he was recalled in August, and he believes Matusz will bounce back next season.
"He's still a left-hander who has four pitches," Wieters said confidently. "He's had some tough breaks lately, but he's throwing the ball better in his last stint up than he was early in the year. … I know how hard he's going to work in the offseason to be ready to go."
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