A little more than a week into the season, Jonathan Schoop has found out the Arizona Fall League can be an unforgiving place. Entering Thursday, his .059 batting average (1-for-17 in four games) was the worst in the AFL.
Schoop, the Orioles' No. 4 prospect, found a bit more success Thursday. His two-run home run in the sixth inning lifted Surprise to a 10-5 victory against Scottsdale at Surprise Stadium.
Though the home run was Schoop's only hit of the day (he finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts), he said he felt more comfortable at the plate.
"You've got to find a way to work through it," Schoop said. "That's baseball. You've got to make adjustments and I'm doing it."
Schoop is back in the AFL for the second consecutive year. He had a successful fall at the plate in 2012, hitting .270 with a .446 on-base percentage.
Schoop said he benefited from spending last fall in the AFL.
"Every day, there is something to learn," Schoop said. "Last year, I learned a lot. It's a competitive league. You've got to stay focused."
Schoop's home run helped the Saguaros' offense bounce back after being held to just one run by the Scorpions in a 2-1 loss Wednesday. Catcher Jorge Alfaro provided a boost to Surprise's offense. The Rangers' No. 1 prospect went 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs and an RBI.
But the Saguaros' offensive output was a team effort. Eight players either had a hit or scored a run in the victory.
"This team is a good team," Schoop said. "It feels good having everybody enjoying the game and having fun with it."
Trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, Scottsdale loaded the bases with two outs to mount a late threat. But right-hander Ryan Harvey entered the game and got the final four outs to save Surprise's victory.
The Scorpions were led by second baseman Tommy La Stella and catcher Peter O'Brien. La Stella, the Braves' No. 14 prospect, went 2-for-2 with two doubles, three walks and a run. He is hitting .500 and his .696 on-base percentage leads the AFL. O'Brien hit two solo home runs and finished the day 2-for-5.
For Schoop, the AFL is the end of a long season. He suffered a stress fracture in his back in May and was sidelined for two months. Despite the injury, Schoop made his Major League debut in September. Schoop said he had just six days off between the end of the Orioles' season and the start of the AFL.
Schoop is eager use his time in Arizona to improve and finish the season strong.
"Now is a time for me to get better as a player and help my organization get to playoffs and win a World Series," Schoop said. "I'm out here get better. I want to get some more at bats, get ready for next season and be a better player."