Reader Travis recently e-mailed asking us to take a look at non-roster invitee Andy Sisco, who I knew next to nothing about prior to embarking on this post. The lefthanded Sisco — who is apparently a giant, listed at 6’10”, 270 lbs — was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2001 and picked up by the Royals in the 2004 Rule 5 draft. Kansas City converted him to a reliever, and he rewarded them with the only good Major League season he’s ever had in 2005, with 75.1 innings of 3.11 ERA/3.79 FIP ball, a 9.08 K/9, a rather hideous 5.02 BB/9 — though few of those walks came back to haunt him thanks to the 9th-best strand rate among AL relievers that year — and 0.72 HR/9, for a campaign worth 1.0 fWAR.
Things have pretty much been all downhill for Andy since then. He struggled mightily in 2006, eventually getting demoted to AAA and being recalled by August, and ultimately posting a 7.10 ERA/5.26 FIP (6.17 BB/9!) in 58.1 Major League innings. Following the 2006 season Sisco was dealt to the White Sox for Ross Gload, but his bases-on-balls issue managed to get even worse, as he threw 14 relief innings for the White Sox in 2007 and walked 11 batters on his way to an 8.36 ERA/5.81 FIP. At some unspecified point Sisco went under the knife for Tommy John surgery and resurfaced in March 2009 on a Minor League deal with the A’s. There don’t appear to be any records of Sisco throwing a single pitch for any Oakland affiliate at any level, and a year later he latched on with the Giants. Sisco threw 66.2 innings at San Francisco’s AA affiliate last season, with a 4.19 ERA/3.44 FIP line that finally saw his walks per nine dip below five (although not by much, at 4.86) and was significantly bolstered by a 10.13 K/9.
Sisco went from AA to winter ball in the Mexican League, and became a free agent at the end of the 2010 MLB season. He was signed by the Yankees this past November, during Thanksgiving weekend, which is why I barely remember it. According to this report on Hardball Talk, Ken Rosenthal says that Sisco was chucking 95mph heat in winter ball, which is presumably why the Yanks decided to take a flier on him. Control problems be damned; how often does one find a six-foot-ten lefty that throws in the mid-90s? Sisco ended up making 15 starts in the Mexican League, throwing 78 innings of 4.04 ERA ball. Unfortunately his BB/9 was still hellacious, at 5.2, though he continued to strike out more than a batter per inning (9.8).
In any event, given the strength of the Yankee relief corps as it is before a single pitch has even been thrown in spring training, I think Sisco would have to blow everyone’s socks off to even be in the conversation as a potential bullpen piece. The gas and K/9 are enticing, but his historical walk rates are pretty untenable. However, David Robertson‘s managed to develop into a useful bullpen piece despite a career BB/9 of 4.72, so it’s not impossible for Sisco to be effective, but he’d also need to be striking out well more than 10 men per nine — something he’s never done at the Major League level, which is also why he’s been through five teams’ systems.
But of course, hope springs eternal, and if Sisco proves to be a lefty killer in the minors, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see him get the call to spell someone in the bullpen at some point during the 2o11 season.
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