Taking stock of the O’s current catching situation

The Orioles have three catchers on their current 40-man roster after Caleb Joseph was recently non-tendered. They are Austin Wynns, Chance Sisco and Andrew Susac.

What will the Orioles do at the catching position in 2019? Are they going to add a veteran catcher and/or does Joseph still have a shot to come back? Will Sisco have to go back to the farm next April to try to re-ignite his career?

Here is the list of current free agent catchers:
Drew Butera (35)
A.J. Ellis (38)
Yasmani Grandal (30)
Chris Herrmann (31)
Nick Hundley (35)
Caleb Joseph (33)
Jonathan Lucroy (33)
Martín Maldonado (32)
Devin Mesoraco (31)
James McCann (29)
Wilson Ramos (31)
Rene Rivera (35)
Stephen Vogt (34)
Matt Wieters (33)

Givens-w-Wynns-Gray@TEX-sidebar.jpgThe soon-to-be 28-year-old Wynns hit .255/.287/.382 last year in his first stint in the majors. He was the club’s 10th round pick in 2013 - not a bad selection for a college senior signed for a $10,000 bonus. Wynns has proven to be a solid defender and, like Joseph, seems to be that catcher who is incredibly invested with his pitcher each night. He focuses heavily on defense and run prevention first. If he gets a hit or two, that’s a bonus.

Sisco was ranked as the club’s No. 1 prospect at the end of the 2016 season and four times total was among the club’s top four prospects. He was national top 100 prospect twice for Baseball America - rated No. 57 at the end of 2016 and No. 68 the following winter.

But after batting over .300 at Single-A Delmarva, Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, Sisco has hit just .267 and .242 the last two years at Triple-A Norfolk and is a lifetime .197 hitter in the majors.

His defense has been often questioned. But last year he got off to a 9-for-18 start in throwing out basestealers. But after that he seemingly couldn’t get anyone. Reportedly, he’d been encouraged to try to make the perfect throw to second base. He started misfiring, and at the same time was not hitting. It clearly snowballed on him and damaged the kid’s confidence. Can he regain it and boost his batting average? Don’t count him out yet.

By the way, even with that late slump, Sisco threw out 31 percent last year, with Wynns at 32 percent and Joseph at 33 percent. All three were above the American League average of 28 percent.

Another catcher in the organization who could affect the big league roster in 2019 is Martin Cervenka. But he was not added to the 40-man roster and is available to be taken by any team in this week’s Rule 5 draft.

This past season for Bowie, Cervenka, who is a native of the Czech Republic, hit .258/.317/.457 with 22 doubles, 15 homers and 60 RBIs. He was an Eastern League All-Star and his bat really took off in July, when he hit .364/.436/.758 with seven homers and 25 RBIs. For that, he was named the Orioles’ Minor League Player of the Month and also the Eastern League Player of the Month.

Cervenka, who turned 26 in August, has two tools that stand out: arm strength and some power in his bat. His pop time to second base, according to scouts, ranges from 1.85 to 1.93 seconds. That time would be quicker on average than times posted by Joseph, Wynns and Sisco.

So do the Orioles have enough catching yet for next season? That seems unlikely, and the club could pursue a veteran via free agency or trade. Or if bypassed in the Rule 5 draft, Cervenka could join the other young and inexperienced backstops heading to spring training.

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