2014 Draft: Derek Fisher

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Derek Fisher | OF

Fisher is from a small town in Pennsylvania, a few miles outside Harrisburg, and he was drafted in the sixth round (204th overall pick) out of high school in the 2011 draft by the Rangers. He reportedly declined a seven-figure bonus offer and instead followed through on his commitment to Virginia. After hitting .290/.386/.495 during his first two years at school, Fisher is hitting .333/.393/.451 through 14 games this spring.

Scouting Report
Fisher, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., is one of the best athletes among this year’s crop of college players. That says more about the draft class than his ability, unfortunately. Fisher is a good but not great runner, and he’s already relegated to left field because of his poor arm and okay at best instincts. He is good enough defensively to stick in the outfield long-term as opposed to moving to first base or even DH, but forget about center or right.

Fisher’s draft stock is built around his left-handed swing, which is quick and compact. He shows lots of power in batting practice but has not yet to fully carry it over into games because of a tendency to drop his hands and let his swing get a little loopy. His approach and ability to recognize breaking balls need work. If Fisher can learn to take his power from batting practice into games, he has all the look of a future middle of the order guy who can swat 30+ homers at his peak.

In their latest rankings, Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Fisher as the 24th and 39th best prospect in the draft. However, Fisher’s draft stock has taken a hit because he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist sliding into a base recently. He is not expected to return until mid-to-late May, right before the draft. Teams won’t have much of an opportunity to scout him this spring.

Fisher came into the spring looking like a top 20 pick but is now likely to slide out of the first round because of the injury. He is a prime target for teams with extra picks or teams hoping to land a top talent in the second round after surrendering their first rounder to sign a free agent. The latter describes the Yankees, whose first pick is in the second round (55th overall) after their offseason spending spree. They seem to have renewed interest in college bats these last two years and there’s a chance Fisher will fall into their laps this spring. It’s a stretch, but not impossible.

Categories : Draft
Comments (10)
  • Tonight’s game vs. Cubs postponed

    4:35pm: Tanaka will start the day game and Pineda will start the night game, the Yankees announced. Since they have an off-day next Monday, they can start Nuno on Sunday and lean on their bullpen heavily if need be.

    11:37am: Tonight’s game against the Cubs has been postponed due to rain, the Yankees announced. They’ll play a split doubleheader tomorrow. The first game is scheduled for 1pm ET, the second for 7pm ET. Because the doubleheader was not scheduled 48 hours in advance, neither team will be able to add a 26th player to the roster tomorrow.

    There’s no word on the Yankees’ pitching plans just yet. Masahiro Tanaka was scheduled to start tonight with Michael Pineda going tomorrow, and I assume both guys will pitch tomorrow. The team will need a spot starter for Sunday’s game against the Rays in that case. Vidal Nuno is still stretched out to 60+ pitches and could be the guy. Shane Greene was sent to Triple-A yesterday, but he could be recalled as Frankie Cervelli’s injury replacement tomorrow to make a spot start during the doubleheader. He hasn’t pitched in a while though.

    On the bright side, Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) both get another day of rest. Jeter will have four straight days off after sitting out Saturday’s and Sunday’s games while Roberts will have three days off. The Yankees are expected to call up two players before their next game, one replacing Cervelli (hamstring) and the other Greene. John Ryan Murphy and Russ Canzler are the rumored names.
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Last summer the Yankees teamed up with Manchester City to become part owners of Major League Soccer’s latest expansion franchise, the appropriately named New York City Football Club. It is the second MLS franchise in the area, joining the New York Red Bulls. The Yankees reportedly own a quarter of NYCFC and their involvement has mostly to do with concessions (Legends Hospitality) and their New York political ties.

According to the New York Times, NYCFC has been unable to find a permanent home. Community opposition derailed plans for a stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, and rumors of a facility between the Major Deegan and East 153rd St. have not materialized. Because of this, the club will play it’s home games at Yankee Stadium for the next three (!) years. NYCFC must secure a location and build a stadium within that time, which does not figure to be easy considering how things have played out over the last year.

Yankee Stadium has hosted several soccer and non-baseball events over the years, though most were held during the offseason. Manchester City and Chelsea played an exhibition game in the Bronx last May while the Yankees were on an eight-game road trip. Temporary grass was laid over the infield (see the photo above) and I assume that is the plan for the next three years. The MLB and MLS seasons both run from March to October, so there is plenty of overlap. Here’s more from the Times:

A Yankees executive emphasized to reporters earlier this year that a potential shared space was not a concern, saying the Yankees “realized what we were getting into” when they went into their M.L.S. partnership with Manchester City.

At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts.

Obviously wear and tear is a pretty big concern. The MLS schedule runs 34 games, which means one home game every two weeks or so, on average. Back-to-back NYCFC home games and stuff like that could really tear up the field. There’s also the matter of removing and rebuilding the pitcher’s mound. That said, Holtzman and the Yankees are not concerned.

“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said.

“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”

NYCFC will begin play during the 2015 season. An official announcement of their temporary move into Yankee Stadium is expected next week.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (59)
  • Yankees call up John Ryan Murphy and Scott Sizemore

    The Yankees have called up catcher John Ryan Murphy and infielder Scott Sizemore, the team announced. To make room on the 40-man roster for Sizemore, Frankie Cervelli (hamstring) was placed on the 60-day DL.

    Murphy, 22, was off to a 5-for-26 (.192) start in seven games with Triple-A Scranton, though three of the five hits were doubles. If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now: he’s ahead of Austin Romine on the organizational catching depth chart. Just sitting on the bench and going through the various scouting meetings will be a good learning experience for Murphy.

    Sizemore, 29, was hitting .344/.436/.500 (160 wRC+) with three doubles and a triple in ten games down in Triple-A. He has struck out in 41.0% of his plate appearances, however. Sizemore can play second and third bases, giving the team some extra depth and protection in case Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) continue to deal with their nagging injuries.
    · (100) ·

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

After starting the season with 13 games in 13 days, the Yankees enjoyed their first scheduled off-day yesterday. That it came on the heels of that crazy win over the Red Sox only made it sweeter. The team will call up at least two players before tonight’s series opener against the Cubs, one of whom will be a catcher to replace Frankie Cervelli. Here are some random thoughts about coming roster moves and more.

1. The Yankees have no shortage of catchers, so replacing Cervelli is a matter of preference. Austin Romine would be the easy move, but Dan Barbarisi says John Ryan Murphy will instead get the call to sit on the bench behind Brian McCann. I like the move for two reasons, one more important than the other. For starters, the team could always use him at third base in an emergency, so he adds flexibility. That’s the less important reason. Secondly, I also think there is a lot of learning that can be done just by being in the big leagues, especially as a catcher. Playing everyday in Triple-A would allow him to get at-bats, sure, but Murphy would not be exposed to big league game plans and scouting meetings and all that. Since Cervelli suffered a Grade II strain and is going to be out for quite a while, Murphy will get an extended opportunity to learn from the big league coaching staff and a veteran mentor in McCann. This might be the start of a Jorge Posada/Joe Girardi-esque apprenticeship.

2. The infield is a much different situation. Both Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) are day-to-day, so adding another infielder makes sense. Carlos Beltran at first base was fun for one night, but I don’t want them to make it a habit. Every infielder on the 40-man roster is either in the big leagues, hurt (Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan), or suspended (Alex Rodriguez). There is no obvious call-up candidate. Scott Sizemore has MLB experience and he’s off to a nice start with Triple-A Scranton (165 wRC+), plus they’re going to have to make a decision about him soon anyway because his May 1st opt-out is looming. I think he has a minor league option remaining (don’t hold me to that), meaning the Yankees can send him back to Triple-A later in the summer. With Zelous Wheeler hurt, the only other Triple-A infield options are Corban Joseph, Jose Pirela, Russ Canzler, and Carmen Angelini. Brian Cashman told Bryan Hoch they are leaning towards Canzler, for what it’s worth. Either way, I assume this player is only keeping the spot warm for Teixeira, who can be activated off the DL this weekend. (That doesn’t mean he definitely will, of course.)

3. As for squeezing Sizemore or any other infielder onto the 40-man roster, I think we are firmly in “Ryan to the 60-day DL” territory. His DL stint was retroactive to March 22nd, so he’s already closing in on a full month on the shelf. The last update we have on him came Friday, when Joe Girardi told Brian Heyman that Ryan had started light baseball activities. That’s all. Light baseball activities. Given how tricky backs can be, I’m sure the Yankees will be extra careful during his rehab. And remember, Ryan missed almost all of Spring Training, so he’ll need more than the usual two or three minor league rehab games to get ready. Missing another four or five weeks doesn’t seem unreasonable. So yeah, I think Ryan will be transferred to the 60-day DL whenever another 40-man spot is needed, which will be this afternoon. I suppose Cervelli is a 60-day DL candidate as well, but I think Ryan is first in line.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

4. I was talking to Ben about this yesterday: did you realize that Robinson Cano has hit six homeruns in his last 81 games? Arbitrary endpoints and all that, but it is exactly half a season. It’s not like Cano has not hit during that time (.332/.388/.472), but his power has been more towards the gaps for doubles (25) than over the fence for the last half-season. Clearly the lineup late last season has something to do with that. Robbie got nothing to hit down the stretch last year, even after the Alfonso Soriano trade. Teams simply were not going to let him beat them once the playoff races heated up. I love Cano and I wish there was a way he could have stayed with the Yankees on a reasonable contract, but man, that kind of extended power outage is a bit scary for a player who just signed a huge deal. Now watch him go hit six homers this week.

5. Once Teixeira returns, whenever that is, I don’t see how the Yankees can keep Yangervis Solarte out of the lineup. No, he’s not going to hit .357/.413/.500 (160 wRC+) all year, but he is better than Roberts. That seems pretty clear after 13 games. Kelly Johnson has quietly been excellent (also 160 wRC+) and we all know Jeter and Teixeira aren’t coming out of the lineup, so that leaves second base as the only spot to play Solarte. This is one of those simple and straightforward moves that might not happen right away because the Yankees have some money invested in Roberts and may decide give him more rope. Randy Winn stuck around until late-May before the team replaced him, remember. Hopefully they’re more willing to making quick decisions about this stuff these days. The AL East race is going to be way too tight to wait for a low-ceiling veteran like Roberts to find it. Solarte’s earned the playing time already.

Categories : Musings
Comments (74)

C Peter O’Brien was named the High-A Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week. He went 13-for-39 with two doubles and four homers during the first ten days of the season. Not bad.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out yet again. They’ve played ten games and had six rainouts this season. Crazy. They’ll try to play a doubleheader tomorrow, but the forecast isn’t much better.

Double-A Trenton (2-0 win over Akron)

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • LF Ben Gamel & 3B Rob Segedin: both 0-3, 1 BB — Gamel was caught stealing … Segedin scored a run and committed a throwing error
  • DH Tyler Austin: 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • RF Taylor Dugas: 1-4, 1 2B
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, 3/4 GB/FB — 58 of 87 pitches were strikes (67%) … that’s a new career high in strikeouts for him, he had struck out ten on two occasions (once last year, once the year before)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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The Yankees do not have a game today; it’s their first scheduled off-day of the 2014 season. It came at a good time too. Last night’s game was pretty intense and I have no trouble sitting around thinking about that win for an extra 24 hours. The Yankees are back at it tomorrow night, when the Cubs visit the Bronx for the first time since 2005.

Here is your nightly open thread. Braves-Phillies will air on ESPN and the Mets are playing the Diamondbacks later tonight. Neither of the NBA locals are in action and we’re stuck in the middle of those days between the end of the NHL regular season and the playoffs. Talk about anything you like here. Have at it.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (104)
  • Olney: Soriano will retire if he has a poor 2014 season

    Via Buster Olney (subs. req’d): Alfonso Soriano said he intends to retire if he has a poor 2014 season. If this year goes well, he’d like to stick around and play another two seasons, preferably with the Yankees. Soriano first admitted to considering retirement during Spring Training.

    Following a brutal start to the new season (0-for-17), the 38-year-old Soriano has come around recently and is hitting .222/.271/.467 (104 wRC+) with three homers overall. I think he’d be a great candidate for the Hiroki Kuroda series of one-year contracts plan, but it takes two to tango. Soriano still has power and he can play both outfield corners as well as DH. There is definitely room for him on the roster. I think the whole “play two more years” thing is an indication he’ll seek a two-year deal, however.
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  • Francisco Cervelli has Grade II hamstring strain; Shane Greene to Triple-A

    The MRI on Frankie Cervelli’s hamstring revealed a Grade II strain, the Yankees announced. He will be placed on the DL. CC Sabathia suffered a Grade II hamstring strain last September and he had to wait eight weeks before he could resume baseball workouts, so Cervelli probably isn’t coming back anytime soon.

    The Yankees also announced that right-hander Shane Greene has been sent to Triple-A Scranton, so two players will be called up before tomorrow’s game. Obviously one will be a catcher. With Derek Jeter (quad) and Brian Roberts (back) banged up, it’s a safe bet the other player will be an infielder. And, just in case you were wondering, the Yankees say the x-rays on Brian McCann’s hand were negative after he took that deflected pitch off the barehand last night.
    · (80) ·

What pitch is coming next? Your guess is as good as mine. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

What pitch is coming next? Your guess is as good as mine. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Two games into his MLB career, Masahiro Tanaka looks very much like the number two starter he was expected to be when he left the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Yeah, he has shown a penchant for the long ball, but he has also struck out 18 of 56 batters faced (32.1%) while walking only one (1.8%). He leads the league in swing and miss rate (17.2%) and in getting hitters to chase out of the zone (43.9%), both by comfortable margins.

Obviously the element of surprise is working in Tanaka’s favor. Most MLB hitters have never faced him before, and while they can watch all the video and read all the scouting reports in the world, there’s no substitute for standing in the box and seeing him for yourself. Tanaka definitely has an advantage right now, but eventually that element of surprise will go away. That’s okay though! He’s not going to turn into Sidney Ponson once the book gets out. Or maybe he will. Who knows? Whatever.

Anyway, one thing I’ve noticed about Tanaka in his two starts is that he is very unpredictable. I don’t mean his performance, I mean his pitch selection. It seems like he will throw almost anything in any count, but that’s just what I’ve seen, or at least what I think I’ve seen. I always think back to this whenever I’m writing about anecdotal stuff. PitchFX can tell us more about Tanaka’s pitch selection than my memory, so with a big assist from Brooks Baseball, here is how he has pitched in various situations in his two starts:

Total Pitches FB% SNK% SLD% SPL% CB% CUT%
Count Even 87 21.8% 21.8% 21.8% 18.4% 12.6% 2.3%
Tanaka Ahead 64 17.2% 20.3% 23.4% 35.9% 1.6% 0.0%
Batter Ahead 47 25.5% 44.7% 10.6% 14.9% 0.0% 4.3%
ALL 198 21.20% 26.80% 19.70% 23.20% 6.60% 2.50%

I was originally planning to include a table with the pitch selection breakdown by count, but that was a mess of numbers and in some cases the sample was only a handful of pitches. It was too much information. Breaking it down like I did above works much better, trust me. (If you must see the individual count info, you can do it via the Brooks link above.)

The first thing that stands out to me is how Tanaka has pitched with the count even. The cutter is his clear sixth pitch but otherwise he will throw his four-seamer, sinker, slider, and splitter interchangeably in those situations. The curveball lags behind slightly. How do you prepare for that if you’re a hitter? You can’t sit on a pitch with the count even. You can get lucky and guess right, sure, but there’s no pattern there. You’re just as likely to see a straight four-seamer as you are his trademark splitter.

When he gets ahead in the count, Tanaka tends to lean on his slider and especially his splitter, understandably. Those are his out pitches and when you’re ahead, you try to finish hitters off. He still throws plenty of fastballs in those counts, enough to keep hitters honest. When he’s behind, it tends to be mostly fastballs, which is pretty common. Tanaka has still thrown at least four different pitches at least 10% of the time regardless of whether he’s ahead in the count, behind in the count, or even.

So yeah, my memory didn’t lie. Tanaka has been very unpredictable with his pitch selection in his two starts. That doesn’t mean he will pitch this way forever, but that’s what has happened so far. I tend to think unpredictability is a good thing when it comes to pitching, but there is also an argument to be made that Tanaka’s splitter is so good that he shouldn’t bother screwing around with his other pitches in certain situations. Here’s a quote from one scout, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus (no subs. req’d):

“Without a doubt the splitter is a difference maker; it could very well be the best in the game. But I have concerns about the way he nibbles at the plate and drives up his pitch counts at times. He also gets a little too reliant on the fastball as well, using it instead of the splitter too often when he’s ahead of the count. He does have velocity, but it’s not nearly the same caliber of putaway pitch as the splitter. Why eat ground chuck when you’ve got filet in the fridge?”

Tanaka has averaged only 3.54 pitches per plate appearance in his two starts, the 79th lowest among 93 qualified starters. The first two innings of his two starts have been rough, but he’s averaged 3.43 pitches per plate appearance in the first and second inning. It’s 3.60 pitches per plate appearances from the third inning onward. This does not necessarily mean the scout is wrong. Tanaka has had some extended at-bats (like everyone else) and perhaps he could cut down on those by emphasizing the splitter.

The early inning struggles have been annoying, but Tanaka has pitched very well overall against two tough lineups in his two starts. Hitters haven’t seen him and that’s a distinct advantage, and the fact that he mixes pitches and uses his arsenal so well makes him even more unpredictable. Even though he is only 25 years old, Tanaka definitely has a “crafty veteran” element to his pitching style, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Categories : Analysis, Pitching
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