Player: Derek Fisher
Drafted by: Houston Astros
DOB: 08/21/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 210 pounds
Previously Drafted: Sixth round, 2011 (Rangers)
Derek Fisher was considering one of the top prep hitters in the 2011 class, ranking as the ninth-best high school prospect by Baseball America, but his strong commitment to the University of Virginia caused him to slide out of the first round on Day 1 of the draft. The Rangers tried to lure him away from college by selecting him in the sixth round; however, by that time Fisher had already decided he would play for the Cavaliers the following year.
The sweet-swinging left-handed hitter made an immediate impact in 2012 as a true freshman, batting .288/.375/.507 with 26 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 50 RBI in 56 games. However, Fisher also struck out 24 percent of the time that year compared to a 11-percent walk rate, highlighting his potential for significant improvement as a sophomore.
While Fisher didn’t turn in the breakout performance in 2013 that many expected, the then-19-year-old still improved his batting average to .293 while swatting seven home runs for the second consecutive season. More significantly, at least in terms of his overall development, Fisher improved was able to trim his strikeout rate as a sophomore to 16 percent, which in turn boosted his on-base percentage to .405, and did so without sacrificing any power.
Fisher’s success carried over into the Cape Cod League last summer, where he batted .333 and led the league with a .453 on-base percentage, and, once again, he seemed poise for a breakout performance headed into his junior year.
Unfortunately, the 20-year-old suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand just 15 games into the season, offsetting his hot start and putting his first-round draft projection in jeopardy. Despite spending six weeks on the shelf, Fisher made an immediate impact upon his return with two home runs in his first three games back. He enters the NCAA tournament with a .283/.341/.425 batting line, seven doubles, three home runs and an improved 13-percent walk rate.
The combination of Fisher’s age and untapped power potential makes him one of the more intriguing offensive prospects in this year’s class. Similarly, whoever drafts him could be walking away with a steal.
Full Scouting Report
Arguably the sweetest left-handed stroke in the draft class; everything about his swing is quiet and efficient, and he barely wastes any movement getting the barrel into the hitting zone; generates plus bat speed thanks to strong wrists and forearms; combination of effortless swing and excellent core/hip rotation causes ball to jump off his bat; drives the ball with authority to all fields; has shown a tendency to dip his backside and struggle to stay on top of the ball at times as a result of upright stance and high setup of hands.
Fisher has always stood out for his plate discipline; his game features some swing-and-miss, but his feel for the strike zone has improved in each of the last three seasons; works deep counts and isn’t afraid to take a walk; contact rate should continue to improve with experience.
Fisher is known for flashing plus raw power in batting practice but lacks the same type of power frequency in games; suffered a broken right hamate early in the spring that has understandably sapped some of his thump; easy to envision him being a 20-25 home run threat at maturity due to physically strong 6’3”, 210-pound frame, plus bat speed and consistent approach; the untapped power potential makes him an even more intriguing draft prospect beyond his pure hitting ability.
Moves well for his size thanks to above-average speed and quiet athleticism; gets out of the box and down the line (~4.1 seconds) better than one would expect; speed doesn’t translate on the basepath, but he’s definitely not a clogger; likely to lose speed as he adds strength and develops physically.
Arm strength is slightly below average and limits him defensively to left field or first base, should he endure a position change as a professional.
Fisher is a poor defensive left fielder despite his apparent speed and athleticism; has worked hard to improve his routes and reads this year, but both still are raw and inconsistent with the potential to be further exposed as a professional; limited defensive profile could make him a tweener if the hit and power tools don’t develop as expected.
MLB Player Comparison: Domonic Brown
Domonic Brown seems to be an appropriate comparison for Fisher, as both players are left-handed-hitting left fielders with a good feel for the strike zone (but also some swing-and-miss issues) and plus but inconsistent raw power.
Projection: Second-division left fielder
Major Leagues ETA: Early 2016
Chances of Signing: 85 percent
The team that ultimately drafts Fisher will do so for his untapped power potential from the left side, and it will be a decision based on projection rather than his previous performances. But should he fall down the board in the first round, it might not be a terrible idea for Fisher, who is already young for the current draft class, to resuscitate his stock next season by returning to Virginia.