Each baseball player is unique and has a playing style all their own. River Bandit Derek Fisher is no exception putting up strong numbers to begin the year with Quad Cities. Although he says he does channel the habits of players he’s admired over the years including guys he grew up with.
Fisher started playing T-ball when he was four years old and followed the traditional path to baseball through organized ball with one exception: he was a shortstop. However, this was just fine with him because he was able to emulate Derek Jeter, one of his favorite players. “Growing up, my favorite player was Derek Jeter mostly because he had the same first name as I do. Looking back, once I started getting old enough to understand the game more and understand the people who play it, I still liked him,” Fisher said. “It went from having the same name to the way he plays the game and the way he treats people. I realized that his interviews were just different and everywhere he went, he was respected.” In middle school, Fisher looked up to a pair of classmates who went on to find relative success in professional baseball. “There were a few guys I always looked up to as a kid in middle school. They were the Gallagher brothers,” Fisher said. “Austin was a senior whenever I was in eigth grade and I wanted to be him. He’s really good so I’d always watch him. I came up with his brother who is still playing with the Royals organization. I was always watching people and trying to be as good as they were. I started going to baseball camps and seeing how good everyone was. I took it with a grain of salt and had fun playing. That’s something I still have to this day.” During his sophomore year of high school, Fisher moved to centerfield and was able to emulate another ballplayer he admired: Josh Hamilton. “When I was in high school, I liked Josh Hamilton. He was with the Rangers. Every big leaguer I had a chance to talk to, I always asked about him, how he played, and how he played so hard,” Fisher said. “Sometimes too hard. That’s always a good quality to have and it was always fun to watch him play.” Needless to say, Fisher was excited when the Rangers drafted him in 2011. “It was really cool and an experience I won’t forget. I didn’t think it could get much better. I spent a lot of time there. They treated me well and we left on good terms,” Fisher said. “I didn’t sign with them but it’s a business and it is what it is. I met a lot of good people and learned a lot and am thankful for that experience.” Instead of signing, Fisher chose to play for the University of Virginia which led to lots of playing time throughout his college career including a trip to Omaha to battle for the national championship. “I couldn’t have asked for more and the experience as a whole. Everyone plays college ball to make it to a World Series and to play for a national championship. We did exactly that,” Fisher said. “They never promised us to win games. They never promised us to play for a national championship. It was you’re going to get the best out of your ability and become a better person. It all comes down to the reason why you go to school and I had that opportunity.” It was also during his time at UVA that Fisher underwent surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his right wrist. He said he learned a lot about himself through the healing process. “It was tough. I started off well my junior year and started to have a bit of pain and ended up breaking my hamate bone. It was a common injury and I knew that but I also knew there was going to be some time doing nothing and watching the team on TV rather than be at the games,” Fisher said. “I learned a lot about myself and it took me almost a full year to honestly say that I felt comfortable again.” Fisher rehabbed and returned for a stellar senior season and was drafted again. This time it was with his teammates at a restaurant preparing to take on Maryland in Super Regionals. “Completely aside of the fact that I was picked higher out of college than high school, it was more fun because I was with an entire group of guys that just supported each other so much,” Fisher said. “We had I think eight guys drafted from the same college team. Some people complain about the time frame of the draft because it’s still during the college baseball season but as somebody being in that situation, it helped so much because you don’t have to worry about anything because you’re still playing your season.” Fisher said he has enjoyed his time in the Astros system and hopes to continue playing his game by following examples already in the MLB. “There’s only one Derek Jeter and one Josh Hamilton. Obviously nobody is going to be able to swing like Josh Hamilton or be as durable and play until they’re 40 plus like Jeter but the things that I enjoy from them are things you can control. Hamilton plays hard and he hustles. Jeter is respectful off the field,” Fisher said. “You can’t control hits. You can’t control making plays. The things you can control are the things you have to take advantage of every day. It’s just about having fun every single day. I can say our whole team has that mindset. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not on the same person every night. It’s a collective team effort and you don’t really see it that much in professional baseball anymore.”
Update: In his High-A debut, Derek Fisher set a new California League RBI record with 12 in one game. On the night, he hit three home runs, with two being grand slams, and had a three-run RBI double. The previous record had been 11 RBIs in a game which was set back in 1954.