With the 2017 MLB draft finally complete, let’s turn our attention back to our regular prospect coverage and catch up on some prospect profiles. First on the list: Houston Astros outfielder Derek Fisher, who was promoted to the majors on June 14th. He’s performed very well against MLB pitching so far: .278/.381/.622 with two homers, a stolen base, three walks, and three strikeouts in 18 at-bats. Here’s a quick take on what else to expect.
The Astros drafted Fisher out of the University of Virginia in 2014, a compensation round pick. Scouts have admired his physical tools for years, discerning both 60-grade power and 60-grade speed, but he never hit as well in college as anticipated and had problems with contact.
He split the 2015 season between Low-A and High-A, hitting a combined .275/.364/.483 with 22 homers, 31 steals, 66 walks, but 132 strikeouts in 496 at-bats. His 2016 performance in Double-A and Triple-A was similar.
Fisher ranked eighth, with a Grade B-/B rating, on the pre-season Houston Astros Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with the following commentary:
8) Derek Fisher, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 23, compensation pick in 2014 from University of Virginia; hit .255/.367/.448 with 21 homers, 28 steals, 83 walks, 154 strikeouts in 478 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; 60-grade raw power and speed, will take a walk but has significant strikeout issues and has never quite lived up to the expectations of scouts; defense is mediocre despite his physical tools; higher pure ceiling than Ramon Laureano but has larger holes in his game; perhaps a faster Jeromy Burnitz. ETA 2017.
Ramon Laureano is having a bad year in Double-A and Fisher has leapt past him as a prospect, hitting .335/.401/.608 in Triple-A before moving up to the majors last week. And as noted, he’s doing just fine in the Show so far.
Fisher is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born August 21, 1995, listed at 6-3, 205. All the tools to be an excellent player are here and he’s made good progress making those tools usable on the field this season, at least as a hitter. He’ll always strike out some but his whiff rate is down considerably compared to past seasons, dropping to 19% compared to 25% in 2016 and 2015.
There are still some rough edges. His weakest tool is his throwing arm, which is tepid enough to make left field his best option. He runs well enough for center but his feel for the position remains inconsistent. Despite his speed, he was a poor percentage base thief in Triple-A, being caught 10 times for Fresno against 13 successes. His success rate was better in the lower minors but it needs to be addressed.
Although not quite a finished product, Fisher’s progress as a hitter this spring looks real and he should be a highly productive, if occasionally erratic, player going forward. If the “faster Jeromy Burnitz” comp pans out, that would be a success: Burnitz racked up 25.1 fWAR in a 14-year career.