Derek Fisher Oozes Potential But Has Not Produced
The enigma enveloping 25-year-old outfielder Derek Fisher reached a crescendo in 2018.
Months after scoring the winning run to conclude an epic 13-12 win in Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers, Fisher made the first Opening Day roster of his career.
The euphoria lasted just 36 games. Fisher hit .176 with a .641 OPS through his first 81 plate appearances, then went to the disabled list with a mysterious stomach ailment. He complained of an inability to ingest much of anything. Doctors eventually labeled it an allergic reaction.
Once Fisher was activated, he was jettisoned to Triple-A Fresno while Tony Kemp—whom he bested to make the Opening Day roster—authored the breakout season some expected of Fisher.
Fisher returned once in August, went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts and was not heard from again. The 2014 supplemental first-rounder out of Virginia did not even warrant a September callup, ceding his playoff pinch-runner role to rookie Myles Straw.
"I hope that Fisher comes to spring training in great shape and ready to compete for a job,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said in November. "He’s an incredibly talented prospect and player who just hasn’t demonstrated results at the big league level.”
Potential oozes from the athletic, speedy outfielder. Fisher was the 24th-fastest player in the majors in 2018, according to Statcast's sprint speed metric. He possesses power to all fields with a propensity to pulverize baseballs.
On April 25, Fisher massacred a 425-foot home run off eventual AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani. Fisher’s 41 percent hard-hit rate topped all Astros hitters by nearly three percent.
A low contact rate has held Fisher back. In 252 career plate appearances, Fisher has struck out 38 percent of the time. That rate bordered on 50 percent in 2018 and hastened his return to the minors.
With Marwin Gonzalez set to depart as a free agent, the Astros could have an opening in left field in 2019. Gonzalez's successor could be homegrown if one of Fisher, Kemp or Kyle Tucker—the system's top position prospect—seizes the job.
"Hopefully Fisher this year establishes himself as a major leaguer,” Luhnow said. "That’s what we’d like to see. We can’t hand him a job—we’re not in that spot—but we can certainly give him a chance to fight for that job.”
Spring Training Notes: Hinch Seeks To Make Whitley, Bukauskas ‘Uncomfortable’
Astros manager A.J. Hinch has a particular plan in mind for top pitching prospects Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas in spring training.
• Brock Dykxhoorn, the 6-foot-8 Canadian righthander and 2014 sixth-round pick out of junior college, will spend next season in Korea after signing a $700,000 deal with the league champion SK Wyverns. The Astros granted Dykxhoorn his release to sign overseas. He reached Triple-A Fresno in 2018 and compiled a 4.37 ERA in five pro seasons.