Chance Sisco has started spring training with a strong week behind the plate. Can he keep this up and become the Baltimore Orioles’ opening day catcher?
Anyone who was a fan of the Fantasy Focus baseball podcast when Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz were still hosting the show is familiar with the phrase ‘overreaction theater’. If you weren’t into the show, the concept is self-explanatory. Well, spring training is as good a time as any to overreact to performance, and we’re doing just that by assuming Chance Sisco will continue on his current pace and win the Baltimore Orioles‘ starting catching job out of camp.
Sisco has appeared in just four games thus far, only one of which has been televised. Though this is an inconsequential point, come on, MASN. We know that the Orioles are bad; we want to watch them anyway.
But in those four games, Sisco has five hits in eight at-bats. Four of those hits have left the yard, and he has nine RBI and two walks, with just one strikeout.
You might be saying that it’s just spring training, and that Sisco hasn’t faced adequate competition yet, and you’d be right.
Per Baseball Reference and their highly-useful Opponent Quality score, we can confirm that Sisco hasn’t faced good pitching. Sisco currently sits at 6.6, meaning the average pitcher he’s faced this spring has been just below Double-A quality.
But that doesn’t mean we won’t overreact to his performance this past week.
Sisco has never been a power hitter. He’s proven to be an accomplished hitter in the minors, posting high batting average and on-base percentage totals, but he set his career high with 9 homers between Norfolk and Baltimore in 2017.
The consensus has long been that Sisco could develop into a gap power and doubles hitter with good plate discipline. He’s consistently run double-digit walk rates in the minors, which is good for a catcher, although his strikeout rates have spiked over the past two years. But he’s never really shown that game power.
However, it’s been prevalent in his three games so far.
The homer he hit against the Twins last Saturday was a no-doubter, put well over the right-center field fence, and the first one he hit against the Red Sox was to straight-away center, and he got all of it.
To be fair, Sisco has plenty of work left to do if he wants to be the starting catcher in Baltimore on opening day.
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He’s not a great defender, though the hope is that manager Brandon Hyde and catching coach Tim Cossins, both of whom were catchers during their playing days, can help Sisco develop behind the plate to the point where he can contribute at the major league level on an everyday basis.
He’ll have some competition from Austin Wynns, who played well in Baltimore last year, and from Jesus Sucre, who according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com finally arrived in Sarasota on Friday morning after dealing with issues with his visa earlier in February.
Wynns is a much better defender, which is extremely important to a young Orioles pitching staff, and Sucre is known for his game-calling and would provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse that Sisco couldn’t.
Sisco won’t stay on his current pace, but if he continues to show plus-plate discipline and is able to make this kind of hard contact consistently, the Orioles will need to think twice about sending him back to Norfolk to open the season.