O's top prospect Sisco joins big league club

Baltimore also adds Alvarez, Rodriguez, Rickard, Yacabonis

O's top prospect Sisco joins big league club

BALTIMORE -- A trio of familiar faces returned to Camden Yards on Friday while a highly touted prospect and a Minor League veteran earned their first big league callups as the Orioles began expanding their roster for September.

DH Pedro Alvarez, outfielder Joey Rickard, right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, catcher Chance Sisco and right-hander Richard Rodriguez were all recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. To make room on the 40-man roster, righties Logan Verrett and Tyler Wilson were designated for assignment.

Sisco may be the most intriguing of Baltimore's callups. The 2013 second-round pick is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Orioles' No. 1 prospect and Baltimore's catcher of the future.

With the Orioles in a playoff race and both Caleb Joseph and Welington Castillo healthy, Sisco understands that his playing time may be limited, but there is much to be gained over the next four weeks.

"I think it's going to be a huge learning experience, just like the last couple of Spring Trainings," Sisco said, noting that his biggest improvements this season were made in his handling of the pitching staff.

"We had kind of a rough first half, but the second half was pretty tremendous," he said of Norfolk's season. "So learning those guys and working with them, we made some really good strides."

Sisco, 22, hit .267 with a .736 OPS and seven home runs in 99 games with the Tides.

"There are a lot of things to be gained by him being here," manager Buck Showalter said, listing Sisco's offseason training among the potential benefits after he experiences the grind of September baseball.

Alvarez's solo home run

Alvarez back in The Show
Alvarez slashed .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs in 109 games in 2016, but he has played exclusively at Triple-A this season, hitting .329 with 26 homers and was named to the International League's postseason All-Star team.

"I think he can be a real shot in the arm for us," said Showalter. "I think we'll probably play a little bit more matchups as we go on. I can see him starting some games."

Alvarez is not expected to play the field very much, if at all, but he provides Showalter a welcome left-handed bat.

"You look at his background and his history," Showalter said of the 2013 All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner, "and to go down there and post up like he did, it's impressive."

Alvarez was all smiles in the Orioles clubhouse, exchanging high-fives and hugs with Jonathan Schoop, among others.

"It felt like I kind of never left," Alvarez said. "I'm ready to jump right back into the mix.

"When you can come up and play the types of games that are about to unfold, it's what makes the end of the year such an exciting time."

Yacabonis notches first career K

Bullpen gets some reinforcements
The Orioles entered September 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second American League Wild Card spot, despite an undermanned and often overworked bullpen.

Yacabonis and Rodriguez join Baltimore's relief corps which has combined to throw 476 innings this season, second most in the AL behind only Toronto (483).

"I can't tell, it may be uncomfortable for the fans, but it is for us," Showalter said. "We're short in the 'pen and the same guys can't pitch every day three or four days in a row. It just can't happen."

The additions of Yacabonis and Rodriguez should help. Yacabonis, 25, has a 6.75 ERA in four Major League appearances this season, but he had a 1.32 ERA in 41 appearances with Norfolk.

Rodriguez, 27, spent eight seasons in the Minors before Norfolk manager Ron Johnson told him Thursday night that he'd earned his first big league promotion.

"It's something I've wanted ever since I was a little child," said Rodriguez, who was 4-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 42 appearances with Norfolk. "I feel great about it. I'm very grateful to the Baltimore Orioles for this great opportunity, and I look forward to taking advantage of it."

"I'm intrigued by Rich," Showalter said. "Just about anybody who went down there came back talking about him. It will be interesting to see how he does. He's got a good arm."

Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.