The calendar is turning over to September, which for baseball means one thing: Call-ups. The Orioles will be adding some reinforcements to their team from the minor leagues when rosters expand. On Thursday night, Norfolk Tides beat writer David Hall of The Virginian-Pilot reported that one player who will be joining the Orioles is top catching prospect Chance Sisco.
Along with Sisco, Hall reported that outfielder Joey Rickard and slugger Pedro Alvarez will be headed up to Baltimore from the Triple-A affiliate. So will at least one pitcher: reliever Jimmy Yacabonis. For now, that seems to be all, although after watching the Orioles rotation, I would like at least one long man to join the bullpen immediately.
MASN's Roch Kubatko expects additional call-ups on September 4, which is the final day of Norfolk's season. There could still be pitchers announced later.
The addition of Sisco is a bit of a surprise in the sense that the Orioles seem to have their catching situation under control, so there may not be a ton of opportunities for him to actually play. With the way Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph are performing, and the Orioles being in a playoff chase, can they give many chances to a rookie?
The moves will necessitate clearing at least two spaces on the 40-man roster. The O's will also be bringing back J.J. Hardy from his rehab assignment on Friday. Room must also be made for Sisco and Alvarez. There are guys on that roster who you won't miss and probably never thought of before.
It's been a fine season for Sisco at Norfolk, with the 22-year-old batting .267/.340/.395 over 95 games. That's included seven home runs. The batting line is below what he achieved for Double-A Bowie last season, but that may not be as bad as it seems. Norfolk is regarded as something of a pitcher's park - not that anyone seems to have ever told their own pitchers.
Defensively, Sisco may still have some work to do with controlling the running game. He threw out just 23% of runners. There were a lot of runners - 93 in all, across 794.1 innings behind the plate. They were testing him and most of the time he did not pass.
As far as the 40-man roster spot goes, there's not a lot of downside to the O's adding Sisco now. They have to put him on the roster this offseason anyway to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Giving him a taste of the big leagues to be around and learn, even if he doesn't get to play a ton, may be worthwhile.
Alvarez, who spent last year with the big league club, has been hitting a bunch of homers in the minors. However, with first base and designated hitter gummed up by Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, there was no room for him.
An outfield experiment didn't stick - and besides that, Trey Mancini emerged to claim left field as well. So Alvarez had to wait in Norfolk while crushing 26 homers, though he only batted .238/.293/.441. It won't hurt the Orioles to add a lefty bench bat with some power potential.
Alvarez might even take a little of the DH time away from Trumbo, if the Orioles show more of a willingness to bench the struggling Trumbo than they have up until now.