With the 2019 MLB draft now less than two weeks away, one can’t help but look back to last year’s event and recall the trio of pitchers the Dodgers selected over the first several rounds.
Right-hander Michael Grove and lefty John Rooney were chosen in the second and third roundsof the draft, respectively. Both immediately entered the Dodgers’ top prospect rankings amid their first years in the system. Grove has already worked his way up to High-A Rancho Cucamonga and is ranked as the 14th best prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline, while Rooney isn’t far behind in Low-A Great Lakes as the 23rd best prospect in the organization.
But there’s another future star, righty Braydon Fisher, who could be as good as either Grove or Rooney. After undergoing UCL surgery just last month, Fisher will be spending his entire season with the AZL League Dodgers as he begins a long recovery program.
Despite being on the shelf, the 18-year-old Texas native is currently rated as the 22nd best prospect in the Los Angeles system, just ahead of Rooney.
Fisher was kind enough to sit down with us last weekend and chat about a few things related to his baseball career.
He was the Dodgers’ fourth-round selection in 2018 out of Clear Falls High School in Texas and was somewhat of a surprise 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 physical build and 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, tallying 11 appearances—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. While throwing a bullpen early this spring, Fisher hyper-extended his elbow which was the catalyst for the surgery.
“I have always dealt with some soreness since high school, but this definitely came as a surprise,” Fisher said.
Growing up in Texas, there are plenty of professional teams in the area for a youngster to follow. Yet, Fisher revealed that he was a fan of the Astros during his childhood.
“My favorite team was the Houston Astros because that was my hometown team,” he explained. “I never really had a favorite player, but the one I remember the most was Craig Biggio.”
When asked who the most influential teammate or coach was over the course of his young career, Fisher quickly mentioned Cameron Johnson, the coach for his 13-15 year old summer team.
“He loves the game of baseball so much. That really rubbed off on me,” Fisher stated.
At 18 years of age, Fisher already throws four pitches, something that may put him ahead of the curve when it comes to ascending the organizational ladder. What’s more, it’s rare to see a teenager throw as hard as Fisher did before his surgery.
“I throw a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a curve ball and a changeup. The four-seam has to be my best pitch because the off speed stuff is still developing,” he said. “The fastest I’ve ever been clocked was 96 MPH in high school.”
The thing about Fisher is that he’s 6-foot-4, but when he was drafted, he weighed just 180 lb. 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. Since joining the Dodgers’ farm, he has already bulked up to 195 lb.
“Physically, I’m purposely trying to add some size and strength so I can be in better shape and have more stamina,” he confirmed.
Looking ahead to the remained of the year, a high dose of strength and conditioning appears to be in store for the young right-hander.
“I will be in Arizona for the whole year. My goal is to get bigger and stronger, recover well, and come back even better than I was before,” Fisher said.
Fans should definitely keep their eyes on Fisher when he begins to compete again in 2020. With his build, his mechanics and an already advanced repertoire, his ceiling is undoubtedly extremely high.