Baltimore Orioles: Will Chance Sisco Be the Starting Catcher?

Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco is making a strong case to be the team’s starting catcher heading into the 2018 season.

Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco was once thought to be in competition for the backup catching duties with Austin Wynns and Andrew Susac.

However, his play both at and behind the plate this spring, in spite of lack of a recognition by manager Buck Showalter, shows that he should be the primary catcher over Caleb Joseph on Opening Day.

You wouldn’t know it from Buck Showalter’s comments – because there have been none  – but Orioles rookie catcher Chance Sisco is having an impressive performance early in Grapefruit League play.

In Saturday’s game, he not only hit a go-ahead opposite-field double but caught the best spring outing thus far of likely Opening Day starter Kevin Gausman, who had 3 perfect innings and 5 strikeouts. He went on to catch two more innings of no-hit ball from Josh Edgin and then Alec Asher, who Sisco was able to guide out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth.

Ashur walked Carlos Santana to start the inning, then got the next two outs on fly balls, but then wound up hitting Jorge Alfaro and then walked Colin Cowgill to load the bases. After a mound visit, Sisco got Ashur to throw a pitch that had J.P. Crawford fly out to center field, ending the threat and preserving the no-hit bid.

However, Buck’s comments to MASNSports’ Roch Kubatko after the game seemed to deliberately avoid anything to do with Sisco. He talked about impressive performances by Gausman and Edgin, as well as Mullins’ base-running on Sisco’s double – somehow all without mentioning the young catcher who caught both of those pitchers and hit the double that scored Mullins and produced the first run of the game.

Sisco now has a batting line of .385/.429/.692/1.121 with a home run, a double and 4 RBI and actually has the most plate appearances (14) and starts (six) of any Baltimore Orioles catcher this spring.

The only way fans would know that, is by looking at Spring Training statistics because Buck has apparently not mentioned Sisco once in his comments to any reporters since Spring Training began, not even after his 2-for-2 performance with a three-run HR in the ninth inning of the Baltimore Orioles’ spring opener against the Rays, the only runs the Orioles scored in a 6-3 loss.

He has mentioned his competition though, with multiple comments about Austin Wynns. Wynns has not hit as well as Sisco with only a solo HR as his lone hit this spring, but he has thrown out all 3 runners that tried to steal, something Buck has put an extreme emphasis on.

If Sisco can continue this performance and can outperform Joseph or at least be as good as him, shouldn’t he not only win a roster spot over Wynns and Susac but be the starting catcher on Opening Day?

Buck has also talked about Andrew Susac, mainly in reference to his staph infection he had, but his name was at least mentioned.

Showalter’s pick to be the starting catcher, Caleb Joseph, meanwhile has understandably played sparingly this spring. When he has played, he’s had no extra-base hits and he has also allowed all three stolen bases in the three attempts he’s had.

Chance Sisco, on the other hand, in addition to his offense has caught one of the five runners that attempted to steal, which is pretty much in line with his career average of 21% in the minors. With such a focus on Sisco’s throwing, it’s also interesting that Buck hasn’t said anything about Joseph’s 18% caught stealing rate last season which seems to be continuing into the spring.

Sisco, being a left-handed hitter, also has had a couple of hits against left-handed pitching in few times he’s faced them which is good to see.

Now, I am a big fan of Caleb Joseph’s catching, especially his framing, but he’s 31, so he’s likely peaked offensively and defensively. If Sisco can continue this performance and can outperform Joseph or at least be as good as him, shouldn’t he not only win a roster spot over Wynns and Susac but be the starting catcher on Opening Day?

Don’t bet on it. Buck Showalter’s silence on Sisco speaks volumes. He has already designated Caleb Joseph to be the starting catcher and his comments about Austin Wynns should signal that Wynns is the favorite to win a roster spot over Sisco because of his defensive prowess in throwing out runners, no matter how he hits.

Chance Sisco may be winning the catching battle with his play, but unlike Joseph and Wynns, he’s apparently not yet won the heart of Buck Showalter this spring, which makes all the difference.