After farm apprenticeship, Chance Sisco looks for big league shot

You could once find scouts that felt there was a good possibility that Chance Sisco would never catch in the majors. But he’s already done that. You could also find some that said he is the future catcher of the Orioles. He is still trying to become that.

Drafted by the Orioles with the 61st overall pick out of a California High School in 2013, he has seen all levels of the O’s farm. It began with Sisco batting .371 that summer in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and .340 the next year for low Single-A Delmarva, when he won the South Atlantic League batting title. He’s also seen plenty of action for high Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He has not skipped any steps on the farm and hit pretty well along the way with a career slash line of .311/.390/.426 in 455 games.

Sisco Throws Black Gear Sidebar.jpgIt all led to his first call to the majors last September, where he then went 6-for-18 (.333) with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs. That is a 1.232 OPS.

Sisco’s defense has been scrutinized and criticized, however, since the day the Orioles drafted him. His throwing arm was graded as average at best. Yet Sisco has tirelessly worked on his defense and he got better.

All along the way he had to prove to older pitchers that he could hold his own as a young catcher they could depend on.

“I know how it is when someone is younger than you. So I have to prove to them that I can do it. We have to build that trust together and it will be fine after that,” Sisco said.

The call-up late last year provided even more experience and its own benefits.

“I took a month of experience and being around the guys (from that),” he said. “A month of learning the pitching staff and being around JR (coach John Russell) and Caleb (Joseph) and Welly (Welington Castillo) on a big league stage. Getting experience behind the plate, nothing can compare to the time in the game behind the plate.

“That was huge. Not just to get there but to be able to play and have good at-bats and good games behind the plate. That was huge for me to gain confidence. You always have to prove to yourself first that you can play so you can give yourself that confidence.”

So maybe it’s time to see what Sisco can do on the big league level. Would he platoon with Joseph or more serve as his backup if he makes the opening day roster? A backup role seems most likely and maybe that is the best way for Sisco to break in.

As for Joseph, he said the chance to work with a young catcher and serve as a mentor is something he would enthusiastically embrace. Matt Wieters did the same for him at one time.

“To have an opportunity (to be a mentor) like Matt was to me and even (coaches) John Russell and Don Werner, hopefully I can be that for the young guys,” Joseph said. “That is really important and a big responsibility. I feel that is heavier than even producing on the field if that makes sense. It’s a huge responsibility and a huge honor.”

We’ve already seen that sweet left-handed swing fare well in limited big league at-bats. Maybe this is the year Sisco proves his defense is up to the challenge as well at the highest level.

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