The Situation: The Astros have been using Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick as the lefty side of their outfield-corner platoons, Reddick might hit the DL with a concussion, and Aoki is little more than a warm body at this point in his career. With the passing of the Super 2 deadline for 2017, Derek Fisher becomes the latest beneficiary. The call up comes just a day after GM Jeff Luhnow pronounced Fisher “ready” to MLB.com.
The Background: Fisher played high school ball in Central Pennsylvania at Cedar Cliff High School. He was drafted in the sixth round of 2011 by the Rangers, but chose to go to the University of Virginia. He was a first-round supplemental pick (37th overall) by the Astros in the 2014 draft. He has worked through the Astros’ system at a rate of two levels per season ever since.
Scouting Report: The only question about Fisher has been whether he would make enough contact to be an effective offensive contributor. He has shown plus power and speed throughout his career, but some swing and miss as well. What has encouraged the Astros is that Fisher has improved his offensive effectiveness as he has progressed. His 19.3 percent strikeout rate this season is the lowest of his career.
Fisher has good hitting mechanics. He gets in hitting position early and does not often get himself off balance. He still struggles at times to recognize spin, but that skill is improving. As he moves into his hitting position, his hands can sometimes drift a bit too low and he can get himself beaten by good velocity in above the hands. He shows line-drive power to all fields and the speed and baserunning ability to be a stolen base asset, though he does have to learn pitchers and moves a bit better. He is just 13 for 23 in stolen attempts this season in Triple-A.
Fisher will not be a plus defender. He is all about the bat and legs. While he has the speed for center, he has neither the arm nor the instincts for the position and is relegated to a corner at the highest level, putting more pressure on the hit tool.
Immediate Big League Future: Fisher should get plenty of chances in the near term. The rest is up to him. If he can show a short learning curve, he could force the Astros hand on Aoki once Reddick is healthy.
Fantasy Impact: While his recent stint as a head coach didn't prove to be fruitful, Fisher is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter, a stat that surely…what, you thought I could get through this without referencing the basketball player that hilariously has the same name? Shame on you.
The rich get richer as the Astros pluck Fisher from Triple-A, where he was absolutely mashing to the tune of .335/.401/.608 with 16 dingers in 275 plate appearances. The 23-year-old has even shown the propensity to steal some bases, although he wasn't particularly good at it this season, swiping 13 in 23 attempts. The steals could be something that come with experience, as he has shown a proclivity to be more successful on the bases with time at a level. Fisher has never been known as a great defender, but we don't really care about that for our purposes, especially if his minor league numbers at the plate translate even a little bit.
After Josh Reddick crashed into the outfield wall, early indications are that Fisher could man his position while the veteran recovers with a DL stint. Reddick has been pretty good this season, so Fisher's first foray into the big leagues could be an abbreviated one. Having said that, if he hits anywhere near the level he showed at Triple-A Fresno (sure it's the PCL, but still), the Astros could have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup. Long term, Fisher could be a 20 homer, 20 steal type guy, provided his success rate on the bases improves. In the short term, he could square off against Boston reliever Matt Barnes this weekend in a series at Minute Maid Park. So there's that.