We learned a lot about certain players in 2019, but these three Baltimore Orioles will need to step up in a big way next year.
With the 2019 season now over for the Baltimore Orioles, it’s time to start looking ahead to the offseason. General manager Mike Elias has already come out and stated that the organization isn’t likely to spend a big chunk of money and, once again, the win/loss record is not the top priority in 2020. Development is the top goal.
Looking over the current roster, there are a handful of names we can immediately mark as those who will be removed to make room for Rule 5 eligible prospects. There are also a few locks to make the 2020 Opening Day roster. The focus for today is three players who will be around in 2020 but have to show up next season after years of promise and sub-par production at the major league level.
The first player on notice in 2020 is catcher Chance Sisco. A former top prospect in the Orioles system, Sisco will be 25 next season and can still develop into something more, but we have to see sustained success soon or his future with the organization will be short-lived.
Obviously, Adley Rutschman is the man of the future, but having a second man behind the dish who a team can rely on is important, especially if you want to make a postseason run. The organization isn’t deep at the catcher position, so Sisco has the opportunity to earn a backup job, if he starts producing at the plate.
Sisco’s defensive struggles are well-documented and his Baseball Savant numbers don’t show much of an improvement. Of the 57 catchers who made at least 10 pick-off attempts at second base, Sisco ranks 53rd in pop-time (2.09) and ranks 47th in arm strength (79.1 mph). His issues behind the plate wouldn’t be as much of a talking point if his offense ever picks up, especially if he’s going to be Rustchman’s backup.
A hot stretch after his callup in 2019 had many fans excited about Sisco finally figuring things out, but the excitement quickly faded. Sisco finished with a .210 average, eight home runs, a 31% strikeout rate, a wRC+ of 96, and was worth -0.2 fWAR in 59 games. He hit just .168 with a .299 OBP and posted a wRC+ of 53 after the All-Star break.
Sisco did increase his contact rate, swung at fewer first pitches, significantly cut his whiff rate, and increased his line-drive rate from 18% in 2018 to 27%, while cutting his groundball rate by nearly 10%. He’s always been a guy who can get on base, now he needs to show he can hit the ball to earn a place on the roster.
Up next, a reliever who finished 2019 on a positive note.