Chance Sisco Makes Progress Behind The Plate

DURHAM, N.C.—Slowly but surely, the defensive concerns about Chance Sisco as a catcher are starting to melt away.

Sisco went 2-for-5 to help Triple-A Norfolk to a 5-1 win over Durham (Rays) on Thursday night. More importantly, the Orioles No. 1 prospect blocked multiple pitches in the dirt, guided starting pitcher Chris Lee through six sharp innings, and even made a highlight-reel catch on a popup in foul territory when he tumbled over the barrier into the stands and held on for the out.

“He’s a really good defender behind the plate. He’s doing exactly what he needs to do,” Norfolk manager Ron Johnson said. “He was outstanding with Chris Lee tonight. He was outstanding in the ninth inning (with one out and the bases loaded). And he’s been this way. For me it’s really evolved in the last couple of weeks. He’s right where he needs to be.”

Sisco, 22, has long been hailed for his advanced bat-to-ball skills. The 2013 second-round pick entered Thursday with a career .316/.395/.427 batting line, including winning the low Class A South Atlantic League batting title in his first full season and hitting .320 at Double-A last year.

Where Sisco has long been questioned is on the defensive side. He only began catching his senior year of high school and the learning curve has been steep, starting with the basics and building off that foundation slowly.

Now in his fourth full season as a professional, Sisco is allowing fewer passed balls and committing fewer errors on a per game basis than ever before.

“The progression has been coming along really well,” Sisco said. “The last two years I’ve gotten a lot better, grown tremendous strides. It was tough obviously transferring to catching, but I stuck with it and just kept grinding it out and am starting to see some results.”

Where Sisco is still doing major fine-tuning is with his throwing. He allowed a stolen base against Durham, and opponents are now 42-for-49 stealing on Sisco this season.

“That’s really the only thing with him, and it’s going to come along,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a little mental. I really do. Physically he’s capable of throwing the ball. I’ve seen him, when he does it right, he can deliver in the mid 1.9s. He’s got plenty of arm strength and he’s quick . . . He’s going to be fine with it.”

As for the bat, Sisco has shaken off a slow start and is hitting .305/.344/.441 over his past 16 games. He pulled two fastballs into right field for singles on Thursday, and is continuing to show the elite contact ability that made him one of the game’s top prospects.

Sisco’s defense behind the plate is what will be constantly scrutinized as he moves forward. If Thursday was any indication, he is making progress towards erasing the doubts that exist.

“From year to year it’s kind of been a progression where one certain thing has gotten a little bit better each year,” Sisco said. “I’m happy with how it’s going so far, but there is always something to be working on. My main focus right now would be throwing. I’m not going to say it’s the last step to the process, but it’s one of the last few things that I think if I can put together I can be really good back there. I’m happy to be here right now and I’m happy to be working on it.”


• Durham righthander Jose De Leon, the Rays No. 2 prospect, left after three innings with a right lat strain. BA’s Josh Norris has the full story.

• Lee, the Orioles No. 11 prospect, allowed one run in six innings for his first win since May 8. Lee sat 91-95 mph with his fastball and was able to both sink it and run it in on the hands of rigthanders. He mixed in an 85-87 mph slider and 82-82 mph changeup that both got swings and misses.

• Durham shortstop Willy Adames, the Rays No. 1 prospect, went 4-for-5 with three singles. He is hitting .324 (24-for-74) in his past 20 games.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone