Does Orioles Prospect Chance Sisco Make Matt Wieters Expendable?
Was Orioles prospect Chance Sisco the best pure hitter in the South Atlantic League in 2014? After batting a lowly .249 in 13 April games, the left-handed hitter never hit below .321 in a subsequent month, peaking at .404 in June. Overall, his .344 batting average paired beautifully with a .406 on base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. At 19, this level of offensive production is unheard of from a catching prospect. In fact, the top high school catcher in Sisco’s draft class, Reese McGuire, managed a .262/.307/.334 line in the same division. Does the 2013 second round pick’s outstanding offensive performance match his present set of skills?
Listed at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Sisco presents with a strong base and room to add additional size through the back and shoulders. At full physical development, he’ll be 210-215 pounds with the prototype catcher’s frame. And while Chance Sisco impresses with his fluid baseball movements and overall athleticism at the position, he’s not explosive. Additional strength will add more power to the offensive profile as 34 extra base hits in 478 plate appearances is a low number. The California native can develop into a 12-15 home run hitter at the MLB level, but it will be a gradual development.
At the plate, Chance Sisco presents with an advanced eye. Comfortable working deeper counts, he’s not afraid to take close pitches while waiting for one to barrel. Where most hitting prospects require a number of at bats to gauge plate discipline, his ability to command the strike zone stuck out like a sore thumb. And when a mistake was thrown, Chance Sisco didn’t miss, peppering line drives and hard ground balls to all fields.
Sisco is happy punching balls back up the middle at present and rarely attempted to tap into his present power. Against the Rome Braves, he put a charge into an inside fastball, but was still only able to reach the warning track. The batted ball was a strong indicator of present power and the fact Sisco’s hasn’t developed yet. However, identifying pitches to drive early and taking a more aggressive hack was impressive in the moment.
With a sweeping swing, one would expect Chance Sisco to struggle staying inside the baseball. He doesn’t. The left-handed hitter strides to a strong point of balance and Sisco’s relaxed swing load allows him to drop the bat head on the baseball with ease.
On defense, the catcher has a quiet set up and does nothing to draw negative attention to himself behind the plate. One can go an entire game without noticing Sisco which is a positive sign. Latin catchers including Jorge Alfaro and Christian Bethancourt presented with more flash, but cannon throws paired with multiple passed balls resulted in both positives and negatives. Chance Sisco blended in and didn’t make any mistakes. His pitchers achieved success and Sisco displayed enough athleticism and technique to project as a player who can stick.
In looking for possible comparisons, he’s a better player than Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart (ROTOscouting Report) in Single-A and the switch-hitting catcher is considered a top-50 prospect in all of baseball.
Speed is not a part of Sisco’s game. Though he doesn’t clog the bases now, he eventually will.
The Orioles have an interesting decision to make. Down 3-0 in the LCS, their season is likely to come to an end in the next few days. Without pivotal players Manny Machado and Matt Wieters for much of the season, Baltimore was also able to navigate around a disastrous season from Chris Davis en route to great success. With Sisco three years away from contributing at the MLB level and Wieters a free agent after the 2015 season, how the organization decides to bridge the gap will be an indicator of its faith in the Single-A catcher.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Bat first catcher w/ star level upside Hitting Ability 25 60 Power 20 45 Speed 40 50 Fielding Ability 35 50 Arm 45 50
Owning Chance Sisco
In my top-50 prospects scouted, Sisco’s inclusion at 11 was a surprise. But after dissecting his potential value in 5×5 formats, it became difficult to rank him lower. Buster Posey’s 2013 (.295 with 15 home runs and two stolen bases) was worth $18 in auction formats. And since Chance Sisco has the offensive skill set of a player who can grow into similar MLB numbers, I’m attempting to scoop him in fantasy baseball leagues before opposing owners “discover” him this off-season. In general, it’s not wise to invest in catchers given the difficult of finding one who’ll hit at the MLB level, but Sisco is worth the risk.
15 Oct 2014 / Mike Newman /
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