This post is the fourth in a series called “Farm Fodder” that will examine White Sox prospects who could make a significant impact in Chicago in the coming years. Recent trades have significantly increased the amount of talent in the White Sox Organization, but there are also a few very talented players that remain from before the trades. The next prospect we will examine is Jameson Fisher.
Jameson Fisher is a 6’-2” 200 lb. left-handed hitting right-handed throwing outfielder selected by the White Sox in the 4th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Southeastern Louisiana University. Fisher received a signing bonus of $485,000, just under the slot value of $511,300. Fisher was ranked very highly on the White Sox draft board, according to White Sox Scouting Director Nick Hostetler, and they were thrilled when he was still available in the 4th round. Fisher was regarded by many scouts as the best pure hitter available in the draft. Especially for a college product, he had a good eye, good pitch recognition, good bat speed, and a nice left-handed swing. OK, so if Fisher was the best bat in the draft, why wasn’t he drafted earlier? There are a few factors that led to Fisher’s declining draft stock. Going back to Fisher’s sophomore college season when he was a catcher, he was on many team’s radar as a potential high first round draft choice. However, a torn labrum caused him to miss his junior season. The injury also forced him to give up catching. Coming into the draft, Fisher did not have a definite position. While this did hurt his draft stock, his injury did not hurt him at the plate, as he led all of NCAA D1 Baseball hitting .424. The White Sox obviously love his bat, and have been using him in the outfield so far in his pro career. He should be able to handle first base as a pro as well, should the Sox choose to give him reps there. With some work, he should be an average defender, but with a well below average outfield arm. His bat will have to carry him to the big leagues.
Fisher spent the whole of his 2016 pro season with the White Sox rookie affiliate Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League. Fisher had an impressive 50 game debut in the Sox system for Great Falls hitting .342 with a .922 OPS, hitting 4 HR, 23 2B, and stealing 13 bases in 187 at bats. The stolen bases likely won’t continue as the level of competition increases, given Fisher has below average speed. However, so far, Fisher’s bat has carried over into pro ball just as the White Sox expected. It remains to be seen how Fisher adjusts as he continues to move through the Sox system. Most scouts agree that Fisher will hit for average, but there is some debate about his power potential. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has a somewhat pessimistic view:
“Fisher looks like a potential plus hitter. He recognizes breaking balls early and makes in-flight adjustments to them. He tracks pitches well, had good hand-eye, plus bat speed, and a bat path that produces line-drive contact. Fisher’s in-game power output lacks much projection. He’s a pull-heavy line-drive hitter and doesn’t often sell out for power. His body has some room for added mass but his approach, if it goes unchanged, probably only allows for 12-15 homers at peak.”
Time will tell if Fisher’s power develops into more than that 12-15 home run projection. Even having an already advanced approach at the plate, it’s entirely possible that Fisher will continue to mature and develop at the plate. As he advances through the system, I would not be surprised to see him further refine his approach, add more strength, and become a threat for 15-20 home runs. With his great swing, it would not surprise me if his doubles eventually turn into more home runs. Even if he ends up being only a 12-15 home run player, Fisher could be a very valuable offensive piece in the future. At his peak, Fisher may hit .290 or come close to cracking .300 for a few seasons, with a high OBP. He could be a very valuable #2 hitter and his production could be similar to that of current Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera, but with more walks and more strikeouts. If the power does develop further, he could be a run producing threat in the middle of the order.
Fisher is so highly regarded by the White Sox, that he was invited with other Sox highly ranked hitting prospects to a recent 3-day hitting mini-camp at Camelback Ranch. Fisher will likely begin the 2017 season at A Kannapolis. Here he will look to continue his productive hitting and to continue improving in the outfield. There is a high likelihood that Fisher could move quickly through the Sox system this year. With a hot start, the Sox may promote him to A+ Winston Salem. Should he succeed at A+ Winston Salem, there is a strong possibility that he will see time at AA Birmingham as well this season. However, keep in mind that the Sox have made it clear that they will not rush their prospects, so the more likely outcome is that Fisher will finish the season at A+ Winston Salem. Either way, there is a chance that with continued strong performance that Fisher could see big league time as early as mid-2018. Additionally, lack of strong outfield prospects in the organization could contribute to Fisher’s development being accelerated, of course only if merited by his performance. Fisher’s knack for hitting, pure left-handed swing, and developing power potential are just a few more exciting reasons to follow the White Sox minor league system this season. I am excited to see how he develops in 2017. I have a soft spot for sweet-swinging lefties, and I hope to see him contribute in Chicago very soon. -DV
Jameson Fisher Video:
Jameson Fisher MLB.com Pre-Draft Analysis: http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/40395496/v625877283/draft-report-jameson-fisher-college-first-baseman