Baltimore Orioles

Orioles prospect Chance Sisco could benefit big from Welington Castillo's WBC absence

Welington Castillo's surprise inclusion on the Dominican Republic roster for the World Baseball Classic is one that could have ancillary benefits to the club, and to their consensus top prospect, too: catcher Chance Sisco.

The team will clearly have, in an ideal world, chosen to have their everyday catcher at spring training every day, learning how the club's starting pitchers like to operate and building a rapport with the the coaching staff.


But of the five major leaguers who are leaving the Orioles, catcher is the one position here there's a young player who could benefit from a longer look and more time in the major league camp. With respect to Ryan Flaherty, Robert Andino and Johnny Giavotella, who will play for infielders Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado and whomever ends up playing center field for Adam Jones (Chris Dickerson?), the presence of Sisco could create a great situation.

Sisco, 21, is the organization's lone representative on many top prospect lists this offseason and has done nothing but hit at any stop in the minors. In his first full season, 2014 at Class-A Delmarva, he hit .340 and an .854 OPS at age 19. His 2015 season was limited by injuries, but he still hit .297 with an .809 OPS between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. And last year, he hit .320 in 112 games at Bowie before swatting two home runs in four games at Triple-A Norfolk.


His lack of Triple-A experience means he's not at the level of fellow hitting prospect Trey Mancini, who has almost a full season in Norfolk under his belt and has nothing left to show in the minors. But interestingly enough, executive vice president Dan Duquette lumped them together as players who could join the cause in 2017 when speaking at FanFest last month.

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"Chance Sisco is a left-handed hitter, another over .300 hitter who continues to work on his catching skills day in and day out," Duquette said. "I like what [he and Mancini] can potentially bring to the ballclub going into spring training. Here's two top quality hitters coming up to our big league club through the minors who we can take a look at. They can be with us for a long time."

With a full complement of catchers in spring training, Sisco would have been fourth or fifth on the depth chart, depending on how he will be deployed in comparison to glove-first Triple-A catcher Audry Perez.

Once Castillo leaves for the WBC, there will be plenty of time for Francisco Pena and Caleb Joseph behind the plate. It's not the worst thing for them, either, considering they're battling for one roster spot.   But without the starter, everyone's possible entry point into games could move up a bit. Pena and Joseph could split starts, with Perez, Sisco, and non-roster invitee Yermin Mercedes spelling them.

Last year, Sisco was re-assigned to minor league camp on March 16, about a month into camp and with two weeks left of games. Perez wasn't re-assigned from major league camp until March 30, and Pena wasn't optioned until April 1.

So expect a longer stay this year for Sisco, especially if Castillo isn't around, and expect him to do little else than hit. He has a bat that some evaluators say is major league ready right now, and while his defense will be what holds him back in the short term, this new opportunity that will arise in big league camp will leave a lasting impression on both fans and the club, if Sisco's past is any indicator.