Let the Houston Astros’ Derek Fisher be a lesson to us all. Search Engine Optimization is a real concern when naming your baby. If you want any of your child’s accomplishments to be found on the internet (if you can’t find it on Google, did it ever really happen?), your child better not share his/her name with a more popular person. Google’s Derek Fisher is a 5-time NBA champion, and current head coach of the New York Knicks. Conversely, the 3rd Google hit is a headline that reads, “Matt Barnes drove 95 miles to ‘beat the s—t’ out of Derek Fisher.” SEO giveth, and taketh away. Either way, Fisher’s uncontested reign atop Google’s rankings might be coming to an end, because 2016 will be the year the Astros’ Derek Fisher starts to climb his way up the ranks, and cements his status as a future fantasy star. Which makes now your last chance to buy at a good value.

Fisher was drafted by the Astros with the 37th overall pick in 2014. He only slid that far because he was coming off a down senior season, and was demanding a large signing bonus. While he hit only 17 homers in 155 career college games playing OF for the Virginia Cavaliers, the Cavs are known to have an extreme pitchers’ park. The 6’3’’, 207-pound Fisher had all the physical tools to eventually tap into his plus raw power, to go along with his already plus speed, and hitting ability. And that is exactly what happened for Fisher in 2015.

As a 21-year-old outfielder splitting time in Single-A (39 games) and High-A (84 games), Fisher triple-slashed .275/.364/.483, with 22 homers and 31 steals. He reinforced this breakout against tougher competition in the Arizona Fall League, triple-slashing .254/.397/.424, with 2 homers and 3 steals in 17 games. As his OBP numbers reveal, Fisher has a strong command of the strike zone, drawing a walk in 11.6% of his plate appearances last season. He is going to start 2016 in AA and should see AAA by the end of the season, with a 2017 ETA for the majors.

But it is not all rainbows, there are some risks here as well. The power breakout came with an increase in strikeouts, as he struck out 132 times in 123 games. Both the California League (where he did most of his damage last year) and the Arizona Fall League are notorious hitters’ leagues. While the Astros’ home ballpark, Minute Maid Park, favors hitters, there is a decent chance Fisher is traded this season to bolster an already strong Astros team. Underscoring this, it was reported that Fisher was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this offseason in the Ken Giles deal, before word spread that it was Mark Appel who would be on the move, not Fisher.

These are minor concerns in the inherently uncertain world of baseball prospects. If Fisher can come anywhere close to repeating his 20/30 season in AA/AAA this year, the buy window will be slammed shut. In his prime, Fisher projects to hit about .270, with 20-25 homers and 15-20 steals. He holds even more value in OBP/BB leagues.

By Michael Halpern
Email: michaelhalpern@imaginarybrickwall.com

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