Florida Showcase Helps Northeast Prospect

East Coast Pro sheds light on lesser-known talent






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With rosters that are handpicked by scouts, the East Coast Professional Showcase has always been a good place to see future major leaguers in action.

Now in its 14th year, the showcase has featured numerous high schoolers that have gone on to star in the big leagues—guys like Mark Teixeira, Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Carl Crawford, David Price and Buster Posey.

Last year alone, 98 players from the showcase heard their names called during the draft, including 11 players that were selected before the second round. That number doesn't include players drafted out of college that played in the event in 2005 or 2006.

Sometimes, the players are already well-known coming into the event. Other times, the showcase serves as a springboard to put players on the map.  Such was the case two years ago when outfielder Mike Trout and catcher Wil Myers made a name for themselves with good showings at the event.

While players from baseball hot beds like Florida and Georgia typically come in as known quantities, the event is especially helpful for players in the Northeast. One player that created a lot of buzz this year was Derek Fisher, an outfielder from Cedar Crest High in Lebanon, Pa. Lebanon is a sleepy little town about 30 minutes from Hershey, Pa. and an hour outside Amish country.

Fisher showed several impressive tools at Joker Marchant Stadium. He has a professional body at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. He ran the fifth-fastest 60-yard dash, clocking in at 6.65 seconds, showed solid arm strength from the outfield and put on a show in batting practice, launching a few towering home runs to right field with his sweet lefthanded swing.

 "I like the athleticism," an American League crosschecker said. "He showed a real good, fundamentally-sound swing and he's a big guy with some speed. He brings a lot of tools to the table. I think he really got on the radar."

The scout said Fisher showed five-tool potential.

"He really opened some eyes in BP and then ran that good 60 time, and then he's got that arm, so I think he could be," the crosschecker said. "And then with hitting, I like the way he adjusted to offspeed stuff in the games, and I was impressed with the consistency of the contact, the impact of the contact and the way he adjusted to offspeed stuff and I think they're all indicators that the bat's going to be okay."

Fisher, who is verbally committed to Virginia, said the swing has always come naturally.

"It's just kind of a natural thing," Fisher said. "My dad never played baseball. He's a big golf guy, but that's two completely different sports, one sport that I can't play. I just kind of swung and did my thing. I didn't have a teacher or anything until I was 12 years old and, ever since then, I've been working with the same guy."

Familiar Instruction

That guy is Matt Knox, who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2001 draft by Cleveland and spent six years in the minors with the organization. Knox is also the head coach of Fisher's summer league team, Elite Black 18U.

Knox said Fisher's swing has basically remained the same since the day they met.

"The swing from where the hands get set to where he makes contact with the ball has not changed a whole lot since he was 11 years old," Knox said. "There's been some things we've changed with his feet and with his body when he comes through the ball, but the physical part of his swing has not changed a whole lot.

"He's a pure lefthanded hitter. I think, hitting-wise, he's well beyond a 16-year-old kid. I played with guys in the minor leagues who didn't have as good a swing as he does."

Although Fisher had some bad at-bats in the games, scouts were impressed with his tools and he stood out as one of the best all-around players at the event. Fisher wasn't worrying about that, he was just soaking it all in and relishing the experience that replicates life in the minor leagues.

"It gives you a good feel of what pro ball is like," Fisher said. "Yeah, it's a grind, but you're never going to feel 100 percent every day, you're never going to feel perfect, but you have to find something to get you through that day to be successful and help your team win."

For Fisher, that something is strength. He spends October to March lifting weights and working on his swing at indoor batting cages. Knox said Fisher is a tireless worker.

"He works on his swing constantly," Knox said. "He was the kid that would rather go and play baseball than screw around with some of his friends and things like that. He would ride his bike down to my mom's house and knock on my door at 8:30 in the morning and ask if we could go hit. And that hasn't changed a lot now that he's 16 years old and is going to be a senior in high school, except now he'll just send me a text message."

After his summer baseball is over, Fisher said he will take a week or two off to rest and then get back to the weights to take his game to the next level as he heads into his senior year.

"In my mind, I'm not 100 percent in any area," Fisher said. "I want to get a better swing, hit the ball farther, get a little stronger, get faster and improve my defense to become a more all-around player."