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Orioles looking for Sisco to mature in Majors

Young catcher needs to improve defensively, could platoon with Joseph
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- This was the plan last winter, when the Orioles signed catcher Welington Castillo after he was non-tendered by Arizona, to give top prospect Chance Sisco another year of development at Triple-A and not rush him to the big leagues.

Now Sisco, who was part of the O's September callups, will be relied on in 2018. With Castillo declining his option and the Orioles' main emphasis on starting pitching this winter, the organization will place its confidence in Sisco. After all, vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said following Castillo's move to free agency that he felt good about the tandem of Sisco and Caleb Joseph behind the plate, with Austin Wynns -- added to the 40-man roster -- an insurance option.

BALTIMORE -- This was the plan last winter, when the Orioles signed catcher Welington Castillo after he was non-tendered by Arizona, to give top prospect Chance Sisco another year of development at Triple-A and not rush him to the big leagues.

Now Sisco, who was part of the O's September callups, will be relied on in 2018. With Castillo declining his option and the Orioles' main emphasis on starting pitching this winter, the organization will place its confidence in Sisco. After all, vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said following Castillo's move to free agency that he felt good about the tandem of Sisco and Caleb Joseph behind the plate, with Austin Wynns -- added to the 40-man roster -- an insurance option.

Yes, it was a small sample size. But the 22 Major League plate appearances Sisco had this fall were encouraging. He had six hits, including two doubles and two home runs. He also walked three times and finished with a respectable line of .333/.455/.778. The O's Minor League Player of the Year, Sisco has long been lauded as a hitter more mature than his age as the left-handed bat has put up some impressive Minor League numbers.

Defensively, Sisco did not throw out a baserunner in five attempts and will spend this winter -- along with Spring Training -- trying to improve behind the plate, which has always been more of a weakness than his bat.

At Triple-A Norfolk, Sisco made some defensive strides, throwing out 41 percent of potential basestealers in the second half of the season. The 22-year-old Sisco just began catching his senior year of high school.

According to MLB Pipeline, which lists Sisco as No. 44 on its Top 100 Prospects list: "Improvements in Sisco's blocking, receiving and game-calling last season have helped to assuage some concerns about his defensive profile. Scouts now project him to be average behind the plate, though his fringy arm and catch-and-throw skills limit his impact on the running game."

Baltimore's second-round pick in the 2013 Draft, Sisco was primarily a shortstop before his conversion to catching. Given the O's recent woes in their rotation, they can't afford to have a liability behind the plate, making Sisco's improvement key in determining if he'll platoon with Joseph or earn his way into an everyday role, like outfielder Trey Mancini did this year.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baltimore Orioles, Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco