With a two-run rocket off Tampa Bay’s Chaz Roe in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, Orioles catcher Chance Sisco further proved his increased power in 2019.
Sisco started out the game 0-for-3 against All-Star Charlie Morton, but the 107.4 mph laser was the hardest-hit ball of his young career, per Statcast, giving him five home runs in 49 at-bats in 2019 after hitting four in 178 at-bats across his first two years of big league opportunity.
The improved power hasn’t been too evident in exit velocity, with his 2019 average of 88.6 mph a tick about his 87.8 mph average last year. But his average launch angle this season is 20 degrees, far above the 13.4 degrees he averaged last year.
“Barrelling the ball,” Sisco said of what’s led to the uptick. “Kind of being in a better position to hit, really. Honestly, that’s really it.”
That better position relates to “cutting myself off” less than he did in 2018, when he hit .181 and spent plenty of time with Triple-A Norfolk. The added loft has caused added success.
Sisco, 24, is hitting .265 with a 1.053 OPS, and three of his five home runs have come in his past four games. His 10 extra-base hits in 16 games matched his number from 63 games in 2018.
He began the season with Norfolk as the Orioles sought to ensure he was capable of staying at the major league level once he got called up. He proved he deserved an opportunity by hitting .292/.388/.530 with 10 home runs, prompting a call-up.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has used him almost exclusively against right-handed starters as part of a catching platoon with Pedro Severino, but Sisco has hit cleanup or fifth in his past 10 starts.
Just as important is his improved defensive play. He caught back-to-back shutouts in the Orioles’ series victory against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, after both of which Hyde praised his defense.
Along with praising his offense, Hyde did so again Tuesday, though the Rays went 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts with him behind the plate and an Asher Wojciechowski wild pitch that got past him in the sixth eventually led to two runs.
“I thought he caught another good game,” Hyde said. “I thought he had a really good swing. He faced Charlie Morton, and that’s not easy to do, but that home run in the ninth inning was impressive.”
Sisco credited his defensive growth to being “a lot more confident.”
“Just working better with the pitching staff,” he said. “A lot more confident with them. I think they feed off of that, having a guy back there that is confident.”
And he looks a lot more confident at the plate, too.