There’s something great about baseball in December. Of course there’s no actual baseball being played and many would argue that it’s the worst month on the baseball calendar. It’s a fair argument. But for the Orioles and other teams around the league, it’s a month where everyone is a World Series contender. The best-case scenarios are abundant and a 162-0 season doesn’t feel too far-fetched.
For the Orioles, that optimism is needed. The 2018 outlook doesn’t exactly include the team being looked upon as a title contender — that doesn’t need to be said — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to be excited for the spring to roll around.
Aside from the simple fact that there’s baseball around the corner, there’s a new wave of talent about to make the roster and hit the field. If you’re looking forward to nothing else, get ready for the Austin Hays and Chance Sisco show.
Hays update/a look ahead
Hays is deserving of an opportunity to make the big-league roster and perhaps start the first time the Orioles take the diamond in 2018, and there’s not much on his resume that would indicate anything otherwise. All he does is hit. All he does is get on base. All he does is score runs.
This week in his School of Roch column, MASN’s Roch Kubatko provided quotes from Dan Duquette’s spot on 105.7 The Fan that highlighted his views on Hays. Unfortunately, the comments didn’t exactly clear up where the team currently sees his role to open the year:
“I think if we get a little more depth in our outfield, we’ll have that covered,” he said during Thursday night’s “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan. “And he’s real good against left-handed pitching. He hits left-handed pitching consistently and he does some damage against left-handed pitching with power. And he can play a position in the field, so he’s going to be a good ballplayer.
“If we decide to give him more at-bats for experience in the minors, we can decide that in the spring, but he’s got the kind of skills where he should be able to develop into an everyday player for us.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that there’s going to be a competition out there — what’s going to be surprising is if Hays starts the year in the minors.
Sure, there’s a case to let him start the year at Norfolk, but is that the move that makes the most sense? He’s proven he can hit at every level. Now that he’s been exposed to the majors, is there really any harm in giving him a full opportunity with the big-league club if he has a fine camp?
You never want to rush a prospect, but this just doesn’t feel like that type of situation.
Sisco’s opportunities to come early and often
We’re rightfully excited about Hays’ entrance onto the scene in a full-time role, but there should be a similar amount of intrigue for Sisco’s 2018 season. Unlike Hays, he’s a guy who has spent his time at triple-A. He’s succeeded and will get his chance with Caleb Joseph this year.
His question isn’t when he’ll get his time, rather how much he’ll earn and how early.
It’s going to be Sisco and Joseph — and if all goes well, it could be a pairing that works out rather smoothly for the Orioles. Joseph’s defense is superb. Sisco’s ability to provide a well-rounded bat is an asset Buck Showalter will rely on. If they find a rhythm in terms of splitting time, it’s a potentially perfect fit.
The Welington Castillo era, a brief one, is over. His value was unquestionable, but is it unrealistic to expect Sisco to step in and provide similar results if he stays healthy?
Not enough credit is given to the fact that he’ll likely have the entire offseason and spring training with confidence that he’s going to be on the roster once the regular season gets going. That’s an underrated aspect of development.
Also, he’s a career .333 hitter in the big-leagues. That’s over over 18 at-bats, but does that really matter?
Sisco and Hays are ready. Regardless of where they end up once they leave Sarasota, they’ll play quite a role on the team once the season gets going. And as long as the winter continues to provide us with baseball-free days, that should be enough of a boost to get us ready for spring training in February.