All the zeroes posted by the Orioles pitchers, and that he drove in five of the club’s 13 runs in Friday’s shutout win over the Cleveland Indians, illustrate catcher Chance Sisco’s impact on the team's best win of the season.
But with so much focus on how he defends behind the plate, it was the little things that caught manager Brandon Hyde's attention Friday night.
"As excited as I was about how he swung the bat, I was still really pleased with what he did behind the plate," Hyde said Saturday. "I thought he worked great with John Means. They both had a great tempo going throughout the game. And he got those relievers through their innings and put zeroes up, and threw some good fingers down, and just had a really nice relationship with all the guys that pitched last night, blocked really well.
“So, he's making a lot of strides. I thought last night, not because he caught a shutout, but just how he commanded everything — I thought he had really good rhythm and tempo and he just took control back there last night. That was awesome to watch."
Sisco, the onetime Orioles top prospect who has spent parts of the past three seasons in the majors, was always much more heralded for his bat than his defense behind the plate. And his .289/.400/.658 batting line with eight extra-base hits entering Saturday mean he's having early offensive success at the major league level.
The main knock on his defense has been his lack of control in the running game, and his one caught-stealing in seven tries hasn't been a positive. But for such a raw catcher — Sisco, 24, only went behind the plate as a senior in high school — Hyde said he's seen progress in everything else they asked from spring training to now.
"We just felt like in spring training, he was very reserved, and he was worried about what was happening,” Hyde said. “I felt like he was just thinking about, 'What am I doing?' instead of being a little bit more outward. You've got eight guys looking at you, and understanding verbal communication and nonverbal communication, as well as reinforcing pitches with pitchers. There's all the little things that come with being behind the plate.
"We just wanted him to come out a little bit more, be out of his comfort zone, and be a little more, not exactly vocal but just be more comfortable with what he's doing back there. I think last night, I really saw that, and that's why I was so encouraged. You saw that with a lot of nonverbal communication with the pitchers. You saw him reinforcing pitchers, you saw guys comfortable with buying breaking balls with two strikes and him dropping it right between his feet. Just did a really nice job — came off the field with energy, talked in between innings, all those types of things that are the intangible part of catching. Chance is growing. That was good to see last night."
Around the horn
Hyde said the Orioles are looking at the "whole organization" to determine a starting pitcher for Monday's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. Dylan Bundy and Means are scheduled to start Tuesday and Wednesday. … The 50th national convention of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) will be held July 15-19, 2020, at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, the organization announced Thursday. The convention gathers fans, writers, researchers, players, executives, and others in the baseball community. More information is available at SABR.org/convention.