A look at two players, one whose time is now and the other who waits his chance

They are two young players who got their first tastes of big league baseball during the 2013 season. Going into spring training, it looked like one had a better chance to make the Orioles' opening day roster than the other.

Kevin Gausman looked like he could emerge from camp in Florida pitching in the O's rotation and Jonathan Schoop looked like a player likely to begin the season at Triple-A.

But as it turned out, Schoop will run down the orange carpet tomorrow while Gausman will begin this year pitching for Norfolk.

While both players could be huge parts of the Orioles' future, for now it came down to need. The Manny Machado situation no doubt helped Schoop's cause. But the kid also came to camp a bigger, stronger and better player.

It never gets old for me to interview a player when he gets good news like Schoop got yesterday.

"After the season was over, I went home and said, 'I want to keep going. I want to play in the major leagues,' " Schoop said. "I got a taste last year and I never want to go back. That was my mentality. I went home, worked hard and came back a better player.

"I tried not to think too much about it (the past few days). I tried to keep calm and do my job, get my work in. But It was emotional. I dreamed about this moment."

It should be emotional and I'm sure a lot of Orioles fans were excited to hear Schoop would be coming to Baltimore for opening day.

Schoop's numbers at Double-A and Triple-A were modest and, if you just go off the stat sheet, you might say Schoop needs more time at Triple-A. Maybe he does and will get that later this season, but sometimes players improve and are just better, and you have to look at how they play now and not what their 2013 batting stats indicate.

If Schoop struggles, he will be able to handle that. I think that is always a major consideration when the team has to make decisions about a young talented player. It will be fun to watch him play early this season.

As for Gausman, there were no injuries at his position and the O's projected starting five going into camp all had solid springs, so his next trip to Baltimore will have to wait.

"His time will come," manager Buck Showalter said in Norfolk on Saturday. No doubt it will, and now he goes to the minors to get his innings in, continue to work on his slider and await an opportunity.

In a sport where pitching is so critical, it appears the O's pitching come opening day could be solid this year. Knock on wood when you say that, but the staff in Baltimore has players in at Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie hungry to show they can do the job if needed.

The Norfolk rotation, which includes Gausman, Steve Johnson, T.J. McFarland, Mike Wright and Suk-min Yoon, looks strong. At Bowie, three of the club's better pitching prospects, Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies and Tim Berry, will be getting the ball. It looks like Tyler Wilson and Jake Pettit will round out a strong Baysox rotation.

Schoop and Gausman. For now the time has come for one. As for the pitchers, it looks good right now from Baltimore through Bowie - and we haven't even talked about the youngsters beyond that.

There are plenty of reasons for fans to be excited for a new season. It's now just hours away.

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