Machado and Schoop set for Double-A debuts tonight

BOWIE, Md. - There is plenty of excitement surrounding the Bowie Baysox game tonight. Not only is it opening night, but the game will also feature the Double-A debuts of the Orioles’ top two position prospects in Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop.

Machado, the club’s first-round pick in 2010, will play at short and bat fifth tonight. Schoop, the Orioles 2011 minor league Player of the Year, will play second base and bat ninth.

“When I heard they were coming here, I was excited and excited for them,” Bowie manager Gary Kendall said. “I know what kind of people they are. The willingness to learn and the desire is there. I’m excited for our fans that they are here.

“They are both young for this level. You know, don’t base too much on one night, whether it’s a great night or not. It’s about a process from the beginning of the season to the end.”

Machado hit .245 in 63 regular-season games last year with Single-A Frederick and then hit .344 in the playoffs as the Keys won the Carolina League championship. Schoop hit a combined .290 last year with 13 homers and 71 RBIs between Single-A Delmarva and Single-A Frederick.

There seemed to be some debate in the organization whether one or both should go back to Frederick for the start of this season but the 19-year-old Machado and the 20-year-old Schoop will get a chance to show what they can do in the Eastern League beginning tonight.

Kendall said if either player struggles early on this year, he doesn’t expect to see the players or the organization get too concerned about it.

“Every player has growing pains. When you move up a level you get exposed to some new things,” he said. “Just the speed of the game. But both of those guys defensively, I don’t think that is going to be too much of a problem. They both bring so much to the table.”

Schoop was slowed during camp by a knee injury.

“I do know that he was cleared to play. We’ll keep tabs on him and how he feels. We’ll gauge where he is at and be bringing him along where he’s comfortable,” Kendall added.

Kendall was asked about Machado batting fifth and Schoop hitting ninth in the order tonight.

“Just a look-see thing,” Kendall said. “Machado in the five-hole with some guys around him with experience may be something (we will do). Jonathan is in the nine hole tonight. That could change. We’ll see what happens.”

Other notes from Bowie:

* The Baysox send Tim Bascom to the mound tonigh to be followed in the rotation by Bobby Bundy, Jake Pettit, Cole McCurry and Zach Clark. After four years as a starter, McCurry was converted to reliever last year. Kendall said he expects him to make his start in the season’s fourth game, but would not commit to McCurry staying in the rotation after that. Kendall said his starters will be on 80-90 pitch limits on this first turn through the rotation.

* Stu Pomeranz will pitch after Bascom tonight as the Orioles look to stretch him out some, innings-wise. Pedro Viola and Sean Gleason could be the late relievers for the Baysox, although Kendall said he doesn’t have a set closer right now.

* Harrisburg is a Nationals affiliate and has two players in its lineup tonight on major league rehab assignments from Washington. Rick Ankiel will bat third as the DH and Michael Morse will hit fourth and play left field.

* The Baysox have four players who have younger brothers playing pro ball. They are Buck Britton, Caleb Joseph, Bundy and Pomeranz.

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