MIAMI -- Not only is first-time All Star Jonathan Schoop excited to be representing the Baltimore Orioles in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, but he is also thrilled to be representing his home country, Curacao.Schoop, who was signed as a free agent in 2008, took pride in playing
MIAMI -- Not only is first-time All Star Jonathan Schoop excited to be representing the Baltimore Orioles in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, but he is also thrilled to be representing his home country, Curacao.
Schoop, who was signed as a free agent in 2008, took pride in playing for Curacao in an earlier stage of his life at the 2004 Little League World Series, when his Caribbean team took home the world championship with Schoop recording the save on the mound. Now, Schoop finds himself having those same overwhelming feelings he had 13 years ago.
"Yeah, with Little League in Curacao it was a group, this is like more by myself," Schoop said. "It's exciting. It's making me feel like a kid again. I mean I'm getting butterflies in my stomach."
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Schoop is not the only Curacao native participating in the All-Star Game. Dodgers' reliever Kenley Jansen was also born in Willemstad, Curacao, and Schoop believes it is their mission to prove that players from their home country can be All-Star-level talent.
"It would be fun if I faced him," Schoop said. "It would be really fun. I hope I face him, but it will be a tough at-bat. I watched him play with my brothers. I would go to the field and watch them play. I am really proud of him for what he's doing. Curacao people are proud of me and him to make the All-Star Game. That's all we want to do, make Curacao bigger so more scouts will go down there and find more kids."
When Schoop originally found out that he made the All-Star team, he joked that he would be staying with friend and teammate Manny Machado, who is a Miami native. The second baseman said that after the 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night, he would spend his evening at Machado's house as he prepares for Tuesday's All-Star Game.
"Yeah, it's special [to be in Machado's hometown]," Schoop said. "Especially for me to make the All -Star Game. I know he's really happy for me, especially to make it here and I know for sure he's going to watch me play."
The Orioles' second baseman has been the most consistent hitter on their team in the first half of the season, slashing .295/.347/.536 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs and is excited to be recognized for his efforts. Schoop has demonstrated more patience at the plate this season, drawing 19 walks after having just 21 throughout his entire 2016 campaign.
"[The difference this year is I] trust myself more and know I can do it," Schoop said. "Work every day and trust what the scouting report tells you. Sometimes the pitcher, you know what they are trying to do with you. You just have to achieve and make sure you get the right pitch to hit. That's where my game has grown up a little bit more, so I'm more patient and more selective."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.