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Orioles top prospect Chance Sisco begins major league career with September apprenticeship

Catcher Chance Sisco joined the Orioles for his first day as a major leaguer on Friday ready to contribute however he can to the team's playoff push; though manager Buck Showalter said his presence is more as an apprentice than anything else.

"Don't hold me to it," Showalter said. "I think there's a lot of things to be gained by him being here. I know our two catchers [Caleb Joseph and Welington Castillo] and how open and receiving and giving [they are]. I know they were in there, he was asking about some of their hitters and stuff. They were going over everything. I think it's a good experience for him. 'OK, this is what they're talking about; the strength and the endurance factor to go through September.' This is the first time he's ever played [deep] in September. ... But it kind of fortifies."

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Orioles slugger Pedro Álvarez could be a "real shot in the arm" in September, manager Buck Showalter said.

The 22-year-old Sisco, the organization's consensus top prospect in all of this season's rankings, hit .267/.340/.395 in his first full year at Triple-A Norfolk with a career-high seven home runs while adding 23 doubles. The call-up, which precedes the offseason when he would have to be added to the 40-man roster for protection from the Rule 5 draft, was something he was thinking about but not expecting.

"I had it in the back of my mind that it's a possibility, but I wasn't 100 percent sure," he said. "I knew that it was possible, but you also never know. ... I thought I made some good strides this season, and I was playing pretty well, and I was confident in it. From then, that's all I can control. Just see what happens after that."

Sisco's batting line is well below the career levels he'd established, but his larger development in the team's eyes was behind the plate.

Right-hander Richard Rodriguez was the fifth Sept. 1 callup for the Orioles, joining Chance Sisco, Pedro Álvarez, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Joey Rickard.

"He's taken the time and effort to learn his trade as a catcher," executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "It's a tough job and he's improved a lot in terms of his throwing. I think he's thrown out 41 percent since the All-Star break.

"That's the area of his game we hoped he would work on and he's continued to hit every step of the way and he's a good complement to two right-handed-hitting catchers, although our catchers have been [among] the best hitting catchers in the league. But I'm really proud of the progress he's made defensively and he'll get some good experience that will help him in the future, and he can hit."

Showalter frequently said Sisco benefited tremendously in his two major league spring training experiences from the tutelage of bench coach John Russell, and this month gives him a chance to not only observe the routines of Castillo and Joseph but to work more closely with Russell."I think it's going to be huge, the learning experience," Sisco said. "Just like the last couple spring trainings, just being here and being around the guys in the clubhouse. Whenever I get time on the field, just learn and play the game."

Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

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