Jonathan Schoop may have only played in a few rehab games for the Double-A Baysox, but he looks well on his way back to the big leagues.
The rehabbing Orioles second baseman went yard for the third straight game as Bowie bested New Britain, 5-4, in 11 innings Thursday.
Schoop, who left for a defensive replacement in the top of the seventh inning, finished 1-for-3. His solo blast to open the home half of the first gave the Baysox an early 1-0 lead.
"Each day, he's just showing more and more -- bat speed, strength in his bat," Baysox manager Gary Kendall said. "He's starting to get to an array of different pitches, not just the fastball, but the breaking balls and changeups. He hit a changeup out the other night for a home run.
"He's a guy that can handle any pitch. He's a big-league hitter. I'm not saying they were mistakes, because I don't think they were mistakes. He's just getting his barrel to pitches. The ball happens to be going out, but he's putting a good swing to it. That's all we're really looking for. We're just looking for him to have good balance at the plate, get into a rhythm, see the pitch and react."
Schoop made his first start for Bowie on June 19, and after going 0-for-8 in his first two Eastern League appearances since 2012, he has collected six hits in 14 at-bats since.
"From missing this much time, we're talking two months of action, to go in and face Double-A pitching right away, Double-A pitching is nothing to sneeze at," Kendall said. "There are some guys that can turn it up a bit. Starting to get to the fastball, he seeing the ball and he's reacting to it."
The 23-year-old infielder had only played in nine big league games for the Orioles before suffering a partial tear of his medial collateral ligament and spraining his posterior cruciate ligament on April 17 after tripping over Boston first baseman Mike Napoli. Schoop was batting .259 with three homers and seven RBIs in 27 at-bats for Baltimore.
Brady Anderson, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations, who has been overseeing Schoop's rehab noted he is looking better each day, according to Kendall.
"He's been doing a lot," he said. "He's starting to move better to the left and right laterally. He made a couple of plays the last couple of nights that we've been waiting to see since that injury, that kind of tested him a little bit. He looks like he's on the road to recovery."
Once considered one of the Orioles' top prospects, Schoop spent all of 2014 in the Major Leagues. There, the Curacao native slugged 16 homers while batting .209 and ranked fifth on the club with 137 games played.
Tucker Nathans, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for Glynn Davis, the player who replaced Schoop, delivered the big blow for the Baysox, singling home Garabez Rosa with the winning run in his Double-A debut.
"It was really nice," Kendall said. "Tucker is a guy we saw in Spring Training, he's a guy who can hit a fastball. One got up there in the middle of the plate and he put a good swing on it. To come back from two down against a good club, we didn't quit, it was nice to see."
Mike Yastrzemski, the Orioles' No. 10 prospect, singled and scored a run in the 11th while David Freitas slugged a solo homer and scored twice for the Baysox.
Joe Gunkel, Baltimore's No. 27 prospect, gave up two runs on two hits while striking out six over seven innings, but did not figure into the decision for Bowie. Ben Rowen (2-0) picked up the win after surrendering two runs on one hit while walking three over one frame.
Rockies' No. 7 prospect Tom Murphy homered for the Rock Cats.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.