The spring editions of baseball's top prospect lists are trickling out, with a third Orioles player joining the conversation with former first-round picks Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey as a top prospect in the game.
Catcher Chance Sisco, the consensus third-best prospect in the organization who spent last season with Low-A Delmarva, made his first appearance on a national top prospect list this week when he slotted in at No. 101 in the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 prospects.
Sisco, the team's second-round pick in 2013, debuted that summer to bat .363 in 33 games between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Short-Season Single-A Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League.
As an everyday player for the Shorebirds last season, Sisco hit .345/.406/.448 with 27 doubles, five home runs, and 63 RBIs in 114 games. His quick, left-handed swing put him among the best regulars in minor league baseball last year, and he did so at age 19 (Sisco turns 20 on in two weeks).
I reached out to Tucker Blair, formerly of Orioles Nation and currently part of Baseball Prospectus' Mid-Atlantic Evaluator under Nick Faleris and Chris Mellen, on Sisco's inclusion and the strides he made last year.
Blair said that, from early in the process, Sisco was clearly "the type of player who should occupy a spot near the back end."
"With multiple people on our staff seeing Sisco this season, we had a good feel for his overall future potential," Blair said. "The results spoke for themselves, as he led the South Atlantic League in batting average. He was always a prospect we wanted to keep on the list, and I pushed for him because of how impressed I was with the hit tool this season. The external reports from industry members only heightened our interest in Sisco. There is belief in the hit tool, enough to land on the 101."
Blair said Sisco's hit tool could develop into "solid-average" or higher, and could easily yield production at higher levels as he matures.
"In my personal viewings this season, I was impressed by how easy his swing is through the zone, and I see no reason why he can't produce at higher levels," Blair said. "There are mild concerns with his bottom half not providing enough torque or drive for power, but this is a teenager in the lower minors who still has time to develop and mold his game. The defense is still a question, and it's a reason why Sisco wasn't farther up the list.
"There is still a reasonable probability he moves off the catcher position in the future, although the Orioles have made it clear that is not the plan at this time. Again, he is young and has time to develop his skills behind the dish. Sisco is an exciting prospect, and [High-A] Frederick will be a good test for him both offensively and defensively."
Sisco, of course, took third billing on the list when it comes to the Orioles, well beneath the two pitching prospects whose development everyone is keying on this year.
Bundy, the fourth overall pick in 2011 who made nine starts in 2014 after coming off Tommy John surgery, ranked eighth on the Baseball Prospectus list and 26th on ESPN.com's Keith Law's list.
Harvey, the team's 2013 first-round pick, was slightly off the radar this time last year but ranked 16th on Law's list and 20th on Baseball Prospectus.
But Sisco's inclusion, especially at that spot on the list, mean he's a little ahead of schedule in representing the next wave of position prospects in the system.
The back end of prospect lists are typically reserved for players you believe in a little more who are a little farther away than others in that area of a list, but are included for many reasons, including looking good when they make it big.
The BP team's belief certainly bodes well for Sisco in that sense.