Sisco mak­ing im­pres­sion at, behind plate

Catching prospect’s first start in big leagues pleased Showal­ter

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Jon Me­oli

| Ori­oles catcher Chance Sisco didn’t get a full assess­ment from his man­ager after his first nine-in­ning ma­jor league stint in the Ori­oles’ final home game, one that in­cluded his sec­ond ma­jor league home run in limited play­ing time and saw him usher the pitch­ing staff to a 9-4 win.

To Buck Showal­ter, that he was about to set out on the in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing stage by talk­ing to the um­pire and his vet­eran pitch­ers with­out any mi­nuses on Sisco’s slate was pos­i­tive enough for one af­ter­noon.

“I’m get­ting ready to talk to the pitch­ers a lit­tle bit that I trust. Dar­ren [O’Day] will have a good take on it. Of course, there isn’t a bet­ter catching in­struc­tor in baseball than John Rus­sell. And what I noticed is that I didn’t no­tice him, you know what I’m say­ing?” Showal­ter said. “I’m get­ting ready to call home [plate um­pire] Gary Ced­er­strom. I know Gary, and see what he thought from an um­pire’s per­spec­tive. And if he says he was ter­ri­ble, I still like him. But I don’t think he will.

“I thought he pre­sented him­self well. Chris [Till­man] was quick to the plate, they don’t run much on him. The [game-end­ing] pop-up was tough. I thought he was pretty calm with that.”

How Sisco’s de­fense plays at the ma­jor league level will be key to what his role is both next year and going for­ward. The team was en­cour­aged that he threw out 41 per­cent of would-be base steal­ers after the All-Star break in Triple-A Nor­folk, and Showal­ter is con­fi­dent that Rus­sell’s ma­jor league tute­lage can im­prove Sisco’s throw­ing and re­ceiv­ing behind the plate the way it has in re­cent spring train­ings.

His bat, he has shown, ad­justs to new lev­els quickly. In 2016, after a full year at Dou­ble-A Bowie bat­ting .320 with an .828 OPS, Sisco spent the final se­ries at Nor­folk and home­red twice in four games. Ear­lier that year, he went to the All-Star Fu­tures Game and home­red there, too. Sisco en­tered Fri­day with 15 ma­jor league plate ap­pear­ances and has home­red twice, mak­ing it seem like he’s a quick study at the plate.

“Just trying to barrel the ball and make good con­tact,” he said. “I’m not look­ing to hit home runs — I’ve never done that in my life. If the ball goes over the fence, it does.”

It can’t be a co­in­ci­dence that he’s able to quickly be­gin bar­rel­ing the ball at a new level, and that’s a tes­ta­ment to his calm ap­proach and easy swing, which has car­ried him to a .311 mi­nor league bat­ting av­er­age.

That the suc­cess has come this quickly and cre­ated a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion at the ma­jor league level just makes his Septem­ber call-up that much more mean­ing­ful.

“Get­ting called up is a dream come true, and it’s just fun to be in a big league club­house and be in the big leagues,” Sisco said. “It’s ev­ery lit­tle kid’s dream who played Lit­tle League. It’s been awe­some.”

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