Continuing along with our winter prospect profiles, we dip into the surplus of young starting pitchers lurking in the lower levels of the Dodgers‘ farm.
Looking back at the 2018 draft, Los Angeles certainly had its mind on pitching, as the first four selections were all pitchers. J.T. Ginn was the Dodgers’ first selection towards the end of the first round; however, the righty decided to commit to Mississippi State, ultimately handing Los Angeles a compensatory draft choice immediately after the first round in 2019.
Right-hander Michael Grove and lefty John Rooney were selected in the second and third rounds, respectively. Both immediately entered the Dodgers’ top prospect rankings amid their first years in the system.
According to MLB Pipeline, Grove currently sits in the 13th slot while Rooney is ranked 20th.
But there’s another righty, Braydon Fisher, who could conceivably find himself leapfrogging the aforementioned duo at some point, especially if his secondary pitches start to blossom ahead of schedule.
Fisher, the 2018 fourth-round selection out of Cedar Falls High School in Texas, was somewhat of a mystery pick. Despite earning TSWA 6A All-State honors, he wasn’t a regular on the summer showcase circuit as a junior, which made him a bit of an unknown on the national level. Nevertheless, he did emerge at the World Wood Bat Association Championships, where his velocity impressed scouts to the point of making him a Top 150 pick.
He made it to the desert in time to log nine starts for the AZL Dodgers last year, but the coaching staff had the 18-year-old on a short leash, as he never threw more than two innings in a single outing.
He tallied 11 appearances altogether in 2018 (two in relief) compiling a 1-2 record with a 2.05 ERA. He struck out 19 and walked nine batters over an even 22 innings of work.
Fisher’s bread and butter is his heater, by far. He normally sits in the 93 MPH range, but regularly tops out at 96 MPH, which is impressive for a teenager. The two-seam also has a bit of sink and run, giving it the potential to play even bigger as he develops. Furthermore, he throws from more of a three-quarter arm slot, making it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball as it leaves his hand.
According to scouts, his slider is trending upwards, but his changeup is still very raw. Regardless, he’ll have plenty of time to sharpen his offspeed arsenal in the lower levels of the minors.
Here’s a short pre-draft video highlighting Fisher’s mechanics:
The thing about Fisher is that he’s 6-foot-4, but he’s listed at only 180-pounds. As he continues to mature physically and round out his physique, he may end up throwing with less effort, which theoretically could produce even more velocity on his fastball.
As far as 2019 goes, Grove is likely to return to the AZL League to begin the year, but he’ll probably see action for Ogden in the Pioneer League when the short season begins later in the summer.