When top catching prospect Chance Sisco made the Orioles' Opening Day roster - a decision that was a surprise to some because he was presumably taking a backup role behind starter Caleb Joseph - he didn't know how much playing time he'd receive. But Sisco has quickly become a significant part of the club, sharing playing time behind the plate nearly equally with Joseph.
Sisco has started in seven of the Orioles' first 16 games, including five starts in a seven-game stretch that included his first starts on back-to-back days.
"I didn't really know what to expect, so I didn't really have any expectations," Sisco said before Saturday's game in Boston. "I was coming in with an open mind, and whenever I saw my name on the lineup card, that's what was going to happen that day. I've enjoyed my time so far. ... [The playing time] is huge. There's obviously nothing like game situations, so just being ... out there as much as I can has helped me a lot. I'm just getting more comfortable with a lot of situations that have popped up. I've had a lot going on, so there's nothing like the game [experience]."
A certain part of Sisco's significant playing time has been by circumstance. His back-to-back starts came after Joseph had caught two extra-inning games over a three-day span in New York - one 12 innings and the other 14. But the 23-year-old has also earned his opportunities in the lineup with a strong bat and quickly improving acumen behind the plate.
"I'm real happy with it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I was talking to [catchers coach] John [Russell] about it in the dugout [Sunday]. You're got to keep in mind it's a big jump for him and every once in a while you forget how little experience he has at this level."
Showalter believes Sisco is on a steady growth path as a catcher, a position he first took to as a high school senior before the Orioles selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.
"He's handled it well," Showalter added. "He's only going to get better and better. His blocking [has improved]. He and John have done a great job taking it to the level he needs to be. He's throwing better. I'm happy with where he is. I think he's going to end up reaching his potential, whatever that may be."
Going into Tuesday night's series opener in Detroit, Sisco is hitting .276/.344/.379 and his .723 OPS is the fourth best on the team among players with at least 30 at-bats. His .748 OPS against right-handed pitching is also fourth on the club, and Showalter has already brought Sisco off the bench late in five games to face right-handed relievers.
It is a small sample size, but the Orioles predicted that Sisco's bat would play at the major league level. He was a career .311 hitter in the minors and was 6-for-18 with two homers in 10 games last September as a late-season call-up.