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This is the first of several posts coming up, detailing the different position battles going into Spring Training! There are a few clear cut favorites for each one, while some others are completely up in the air. Let's see what we should keep an eye on and who might have an inside track, shall we? Starting off first is catcher. Pretty much written in sharpie: Caleb Joseph Battle for the back up: Chance Sisco, Austin Wynns, Andrew Susac Overview: In 2017, the Orioles changed starting catchers. Being shown the door was Matt Weiters, a fan favorite who came thru the minors with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Well, atleast a lot of expectation. After 8 seasons with the Orioles (2 of them shortened by injury), fans figured the Orioles were looking for a stop gap until Chance Sisco would be ushered in. The Orioles responded by making a splashy signing in Welington Castillo, along with a surprising "player option" for the second year of the deal. Castillo rewarded the faith with a .282 average, 20 home runs, .813 OPS, and a 50%ish caught stealing rate. Plauged by some tough injuries during the season (including a shoulder issue and a "Caleb Joseph" injury), Castillo would have improved on, from statistical terms, was a career year. The biggest downside was the people throwing to him, as he ranked low on metrics as far as defense (minus the caught stealing.) The biggest knock was that the reason he was able to catch so many runners, was due to pitchers mainly having to throw fastballs to him. He excercised his option and found a new home with the White Sox, paving the way for his backup to become the de facto starter, that being... Caleb Joseph. After a disastorous 2016 that saw him miss time with, what can only be described as, a mans worst nightmare for an injury, along with ZERO RBI's, Joseph bounced back. 28 rbi's later (and 8 home runs), Joseph was shown some faith as he goes into 2018 as the starter. Or atleast, he is basically garunteed a spot. Talked up by Trey Mancini as a leader, Joseph will be tasked with mentoring whoever backs him up while also guiding whoever is on the mound. Originally thought of as a "bat first" player in the minors, his defense has really shined and he developed a repuation as a very solid defender. When tasked with being the starter while Wieters was out injured, Joseph guided the staff to a 3.65 ERA while putting up decent numbers at the plate. Chance Sisco has been highly regarded since early on. A .340 average in Delmarva in his first full season had a lot to do with it. Sisco hit very well throughout the minors, currently sporting a .311 average during his time. He was challenged a bit this past season in Norfolk, as left handed pitchers took advantage of the left handed hitter. A .267 average, the lowest he had in a full season as a level, improved a bit later in the season. Sisco has shown power though, especially to the opposite field. A moonshot in the 2016 Futures Game got the attention of a LOT of people. Has room to grow and add muscle, leading him to be a forminable power hitter in the future, especially with his average. He got called up to the Orioles in September and hit his first MLB home run not long after getting his first MLB hit. The bat has never really been a question. He got a late start in life as a catcher, switching his senior year of high school from shortstop. He has gone thru some growing pains on defense, most noteably his arm. AAA teams ran on him early in the season and his "caught stealing" rate hovered around 15% at the break. He was able to bump that up as the season wore on to get to a 29% rate. During his MLB debut, he went 0-5 on attempts though. Austin Wynns showed up on the radar during the last two seasons, culminating with him getting on the 40 man roster this past November to keep him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft. A highly regarded defensive catcher, Wynns has been talked up by Buck Showalter and other Orioles brass the last few months. Getting his first full season in the upper level in 2017 at Bowie, Wynns caught 68% of baserunners (29 of 47 were caught.) The biggest question was his offense, which had been a bit stagnet due to mainly being a backup early on. In 2016, he showed some offense in 3 levels (Frederick, Bowie, and Norfolk) and then hit .300 in the Arizona Fall League. He started off on a tear in 2017 at Bowie, carrying a nearly .400 average thru the first month. However, he was a college graduate draftee, so he was a bit older than the rest of the league. Possible a "late bloomer," he won't hit for high power like Sisco has shown (Wynns has 20 career minor league home runs), but hits to the gap and has a great glove and arm. Andrew Susac comes over from the Brewers, being picked up this off season while on waivers. A former #1 prospect for the Giants, Susac didn't quite live up to the hype. A "veteran" of 77 MLB games over 4 seasons (8 total the last 2 combined), Susac does have some experience. However, he was trending downward in batting, with a .172 average while with the Brewers. He went thru several minor league organizations last season (A all the way to AAA), he does have some upside though it seems to be fleeting. Not a whole lot of a positive spin here, but after seeing how Tim Beckham played after getting brought over, you never know. Camp Questions: Here is where the big points are! Will Sisco break camp with the Orioles? - Clearly the biggest question on most peoples minds. With multiple reports coming out the last few months about the battle between Sisco and Wynns, his spot is not garunteed. The Orioles could decide he needs more time in the minors to work on defense, especially if the pitching staff is a meshed together string of arms. This could be a battle that comes down to the very end. There is also the thought that Sisco might be getting sent to Norfolk anyway, as it would be more benficial for him to start every day vs. being on the bench. What will Sisco have to do to make it on the 25 man to start the season? Impress on defense. This includes: handling pitches in the dirt, getting his footwork and arm mechanics in sync and throwing out some base stealers. He will also need to show he can work with pitchers and get thier trust on breaking balls in the dirt. He shouldn't have any issues hitting, so that might be one less thing to worry about. What will Wynns have to do to make it on the 25 man to start the season? Be impressive. As already stated, his defense is what put him on the radar mainly and is highly touted by Buck and many others coaches and brass on the Orioles. He will have to show that he can handle hitting MLB pitching without too much of a downgrade. Being right handed might work against him a little though, as Sisco has the slight edge being a lefty. What will happen with Susac? Unless Sisco and Wynns turn into complete piles of "oh dear lord, what happened!?" and Susac seems like the second coming, expect Susac to be sent down (he has an option left, something that was probably looked at as gold by Dan) and possibly start in AA. However, if he slumps completely in the spring, you might see him DFA'ed since he takes up a 40 spot. Will the Orioles care more about the offense or defense for a catcher? It's Buck Showalter, so you should already know. Defense will be the main factor, according to all the sources. How do you see the battle playing out? From my own point of view, this will be a great battle. Depending on the first couple of games, that could show us how they plan to play things out. Sisco and Wynns should be the main two competing, with Susac probably getting more time during split squad games. If one starts to pull ahead, you could see them get more reps and that could start to show who they favor. I do expect it to go down to the last week. Who do you want to see get the back up spot? I'm just gonna leave this link here: http://www.orioleshangout.com/2017/03/09/hhp-like-austin-wynns/ What other factors could be at play? Injuries are the main one. The spring can be tough and brutal, especially for catchers and all the reps they will be taking. The good news is that with 4 main catchers (and Audrey Perez), they can spread the reps out a bit more than if only 2 catchers were the main focus. Will we see all 3 with the Orioles at some point? Depends. Whoever loses the "Sisco/Wynns" battle will most likely get the starting spot at Norfolk, with Susac getting the start at Bowie if he stays with the Orioles. Though which ever one doesn't stay on the 25 man, expect to see them during the season though. Both are being looked at for a reason. Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Love to hear them! What would you like to see for Part 2? Pitchers, Utlity Fielder, or Outfield?
TIDES ANNOUNCE OPENING DAY ROSTER Ron Johnson set to lead Tides for 6th consecutive season The Norfolk Tides and their parent club, the Baltimore Orioles, have announced the Tides Opening Day roster for the 2017 season. The roster features 13 pitchers and 12 position players, and the team will once again be managed by Ron Johnson. Joining Johnson are Pitching Coach Mike Griffin, Hitting Coach Sean Berry, Field Coach José Hernández, Athletic Trainer Mark Shiresand Strength and Conditioning Coach Trevor Howell. Norfolk’s pitching staff will consist of starters Mike Wright (slated to take the mound in tonight’s opener at Charlotte), Jayson Aquino, Alec Asher, Chris Lee and Gabriel Ynoa. Norfolk’s relievers include Richard Bleir, Parker Bridwell, Stefan Crichton, Joe Gunkel, Richard Rodriguez, Zach Stewart, Logan Verrett and Jimmy Yacabonis. The Tides Opening Day roster features six infielders: Robert Andino, Alex Castellanos, Johnny Giavotella, Paul Janish, Chris Johnson and David Washington. Manning the outfield for Norfolk will be Pedro Álvarez, Michael Choice, Chris Dickerson and Logan Schafer. The Tides will open the season with two catchers: Francisco Peña and Chance Sisco. Three players will open the season on Norfolk’s Disabled List: pitcher Nate Adcock, catcher Joel Polanco and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. Infielder Jesús Montero will open the season on Norfolk’s Restricted List. The Tides open their 2017 campaign tonight at Charlotte, with first pitch from BB&T Ballpark slated for 7:05 pm. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 94.1 and watched live on MiLB.tv. The Tides open the home portion of their schedule on Monday, April 10 with a 6:35 pm game against the Gwinnett Braves. The first 10,000 fans on Monday will receive a 2017 magnet schedule courtesy of John’s Tax Service.
Despite being one of the Orioles' first spring cuts, Chance Sisco is committed to becoming a major league-caliber catcher rather than moving to a different position. https://www.pressboxonline.com/2016/03/14/orioles-chance-sisco-confident-he-can-stick-at-catcher