Minor league notes on Schoop, Avery and Pelzer

While Manny Machado is the most well-known and most-interviewed Delmarva Shorebird and is playing very well right now in his first full minor league season, the infielder that plays next to him is probably playing as well as anyone on the O's farm right now.

Jonathan Schoop was signed as a shortstop but is playing third base with Machado at short at Single-A Delmarva. Schoop is just 19 and was signed out of Curacao on Aug. 20, 2008.

Last night, when the Shorebirds played Savannah, Schoop began the game 0-for-4. But with the Birds trailing 7-6, Steve Bumbry led off the last of the ninth with a double. Schoop followed with an RBI double to tie the game. Two innings later he hit a walk-off homer as the Shorebirds won 8-7.

Schoop played in 2009 and 2010 mostly for short-season teams in the Dominican, the Gulf Coast League and at Bluefield. He did get into six games late last year with Single-A Frederick. In those two seasons, he batted .262 with five homers, 25 doubles and 70 RBIs over 130 games and 461 at-bats. He has already made it onto the list of the top 10 O's prospects by most who publish such lists.

Schoop is batting .320 with three homers, 11 RBIs and nine extra-base hits over 18 games. In the Sally League OPS stats, he ranks right behind Hagerstown's Bryce Harper who has posted a .948 to Schoop's .940. The early reports on his defense at third have been positive, as well.

In my continuing campaign to help fans learn how to say his name, it is pronounced "Scope" and not "Shupe".

Delmarva has won a season-high five games in a row.

Meanwhile, at Double-A Bowie, Xavier Avery went 4-for-8 as the Baysox split a doubleheader last night. Avery got thrown out once on the bases in each game, just the second and third times he has been caught stealing this year. Avery's 13 stolen bases leads the Eastern League.

Pitcher Wynn Pelzer, who came to the Orioles in a trade for Miguel Tejada at last year's trade deadline in July, is throwing real well right now. He is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.95 for the Sox after pitching five innings in Game Two last night.

Over 19 innings so far, Pelzer has allowed just two runs on nine hits and his ERA current ranks third best in the league.

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