Sooner or later, Arizona Fall League veteran and Baltimore's No. 4 prospect Jonathan Schoop was likely to break out for Surprise. His timing, it turned out, was impeccable.
The shortstop, who also participated in the AFL last season, picked two hits and a walk and played a key role in a pair of late-inning rallies as the Saguaros overcame an early deficit to down the Glendale Desert Dogs, 8-7, on Monday afternoon.
Schoop singled and later scored in the second inning as Surprise jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Glendale responded with five runs over the next two innings, and even after a solo homer by Texas prospect Ryan Rua in the bottom of the fourth, the Saguaros still trailed, 5-4.
In the sixth, Schoop's leadoff walk jump-started a two-run rally. The shortstop crossed the plate two batters later when Cleveland's No. 11 prospect Tony Wolters grounded a double through the right side, and Wolters scored on a single by fellow Indians prospect Joe Wendle.
Surprise extended the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Schoop singled with one out to load the bases. Then Wolters walked in a run and another plated when Cleveland's No. 5 prospect Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch.
Schoop finished 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI, raising his AFL average to .159 through 11 games. The infielder hit .256 with a .697 OPS with Triple-A Norfolk this past summer, and he pinned his difficulties thus far in Arizona to poor plate discipline.
"I was struggling a lot earlier because I was swinging at bad pitches," said the native of Willemstad, Curacao. "I wanted to be more patient and find balls I can hit. That's what I did.
"The adjustment was mental. If you see them throwing balls, you have to lay off on tough pitches. I did that and I got a couple hits."
Schoop wasn't alone in his slump-busting Monday. Rua entered hitless in 15 at-bats over his previous five games, but slugged his first AFL homer. The third baseman smacked his fourth-inning homer off Minnesota's No. 3 prospect Alex Meyer.
Rua raised his AFL average to .114, giving him his first extra-base hit and doubling his RBI total through 10 AFL games. The Lake Erie College product mashed 32 homers in the regular season, including 29 for Class A Hickory, while posting a .914 OPS.
Wendle and Baltimore prospect Henry Urrutia had two hits apiece in the win. Wendle plated a run and Urrutia raised his AFL average to .417.
No. 8 White Sox prospect Marcus Semien drove in four runs with a pair of round-trippers, including a two-run shot in the top of the ninth. Semien had not previously homered in the AFL, and with his 2-for-5 performance, raised his fall average to .171. The 23-year-old shortstop hit .284 with an .880 OPS in 137 games split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this summer.
Cincinnati's No. 15 prospect Yorman Rodriguez also lofted his first homer of the fall for Glendale. The outfielder is batting .277 in 11 games with a .683 OPS.