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Showcase | Story | 12/29/2020

Main Event energizes NJ's Fischer

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Andrew Fischer (Perfect Game)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s difficult to argue with the notion that Andrew Fischer is in a pretty good place right now.

The son of parents who work in the field of education, Fischer has been presented with opportunities that he’s not about to take for granted. He’s been encouraged to excel and engrained with a strong work ethic and a sense of purpose that isn’t often found in a young person still five months shy of his 17th birthday.

A primary third baseman in the national prep class of 2022, Fischer is among the more than 860 prospects from across the country who on Tuesday were winding down their three-day run at the 19th annual Perfect Game National Underclass Showcase-Main Event.

And even with only one more day left to soak-up the warm Southwest Florida sunshine, it seems as if Andrew Fischer will forever soak up what it means to be a part of the Under-Main.

“I just want to prove myself,” he told PG Tuesday when asked his motives for being here the last week of December. “I’ve been working hard – my teammates push me a lot – and it’s just a dream to play at the highest level. This is one of the biggest stages at this age and I just want to compete and get out there and show everyone what I can do.”

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Fischer has been showing PG scouts what he can do on a pretty regular basis over the last four years, arriving here this week from his home in Wall, N.J.

A junior at Wall High School – who because of the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out his sophomore season is yet to play in a varsity baseball game – Fischer is ranked the No. 156 overall national prospect in the 2022 class and the No. 12 third baseman (Nos. 10/2 N.J.).

He is also a proud Duke commit, and when he arrived at the Terry Park Sports Complex Tuesday morning was easily recognizable rockin’ his blue Duke Blue Demons hoodie.

“I love the game and in Jersey there’s no baseball going on right now,” Fischer said. “I just want to play as much as I can and keep progressing and, obviously, I want to play at Duke; I’ve got to earn my spot.”

The PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event is often recognized for the large number of participants it is able to put on display, and that is certainly noteworthy. But what is sometimes lost is the quality of the participants, and that goes even beyond their talents on the field.

It’s an event that seems to attract scores of kids who are not only capable of creating excitement with their play but also excitement with their character; Fischer ranks near the top of the class in that category, too.

He is the only son of Brian and Kristen Fischer. Brian Fischer is a classroom teacher and the head wrestling coach at Wall HS, who wrestled collegiately at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. Kristen Fischer played softball at Rutgers University in New Jersey and is the Chief Financial Officer, Head of Business Operations at the Ivy League’s Princeton University.

As might be expected, Andrew Fischer was a wrestler himself but gave it up before his freshman year when he made the decision to pursue his dream of playing baseball at the highest level possible. He decided it was time to put wrestling off to the side and take the lessons he learned from that demanding sport out onto the baseball field instead.

Although he left wrestling behind, he’s grateful he had the opportunity to experience it because of how much help it was from both a mental and physical standpoint. He sees parallels between wrestling and baseball, many of which involve the development of a strong work ethic.

“Even when it comes down to putting the work in in the morning,” Fischer said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up when it’s still dark outside to just go for a run to keep in shape for an event like this. When you’re at your house and it’s 20 degrees and there’s snow on the ground, I still have to get outside and throw a baseball,” an inclination that comes from those early morning wrestling workouts.

This is the 29th PG event Fischer has been rostered at since making his debut at the 2017 PG Super25 12u Mid-Atlantic Regional in Vineland, N.J., playing with a team called the NJ Vipers. He played in another 13u PG Super25 and a 15u PG Baseball Association events in 2017, also with the Vipers.

Fischer made his first trip to Fort Myers in July 2018 to take part in a pair of 13u PG Series events and was named all-tournament at the 13u PG Series Classic held at the jetBlue Park complex. In 2019 he began to get on the road with his hometown team, the 9ers Baseball Club, and things took off from there.

He was named to an all-tournament team four times during that season with the 9ers, including at the PG WWBA 15u National championship played in Emerson, Ga. Fischer continued to play in PG Series events in 2019 and hit it big when he was invited to the 2019 PG 14u National Showcase in Fort Myers.

His 2019 campaign came to a close on another really big stage where he turned in yet another all-tournament performance with the 9ers BC at the PG WWBA Sophomore World Championship, also played in Fort Myers.

Fischer was first seen at a PG event this past summer at the PG Junior National Showcase in Hoover, Ala., and also took part in the PG Underclass All-American Games showcase in Marietta, Ga.

He didn’t play at another national tournament event until the fall when he suited up for the Team Georgia National/9ers Baseball Club at both the PG WWBA South Qualifier #2 in Marietta, Ga., and at the PG WWBA World Championship in Fort Myers in late September/early October.

The absence was easily explained. Fischer’s longtime coach with the 9ers Baseball Club, Rob Maida, had made the decision to skip a lot of the out-of-town tournaments during the pandemic summer of 2020 and Andrew had no interest in playing for anyone else.

“Loyalty to your travel team is a big thing (to me); I’m very loyal to 9ers. I haven’t played on another travel team since I’ve been on the 9ers,” Fischer said. “Coach Maida has done a lot for me and I’m very grateful. Going to the showcases is the only opportunity I get to show myself besides with the (9ers) …

“If the showcase is there and I’m invited to it and get a chance to prove myself and show what I can do, then I’m going to do it,” he continued. “I’m thankful that my parents are able to help me get through that and provide that opportunity.”

Fischer did, indeed, make the most of it in 2020. He earned Top Prospect List recognition at both the PG Underclass All-American Games in Georgia and at the PG Fall Top Prospect National Showcase in St. Petersburg, Fla. (the Jr. National does not produce a TPL).

During the Under-Main’s workout session held Monday, he threw 90 mph across the infield, which tied for the sixth-best effort of the day and ran a very respectable 6.87-second 60. A lefthanded hitter, Fischer also stood out during BP. His report read, in part:

“(Fischer) continues to impress each time out, producing several well-struck line drives throughout his round. Intent-based stroke with calm movements and quick-twitch. Physical build with well-proportioned strength, plus present bat speed and power potential to the pull-side.”

Fischer had no misconceptions about what he was getting into:

“At showcases like this, you’ve got do something different,” he said. “There are (800) kids here, or however many there are, and there’s a decent amount of kids who can all do the same thing – everyone can throw 90 miles an hour, everyone can hit the ball hard. It’s who’s going to steal the extra bag? Who’s going to separate themselves? Who’s going to pick up their teammate when they’re down?”

With a mom that works at Princeton and a dad who is a high school teacher and coach, academics are obviously a big deal in Andrew Fischer’s life (he carries a 3.82 GPA at Wall HS). He’s always been pushed to go the extra mile in the classroom and that can be done by something as simple as sitting in the front row during a class (although that might not work as well in a virtual classroom).

“Just make sure you’re taking any extra notes that you can, that your homework is in on time and make sure you’ve studied for the test,” Andrew said. “All of that has helped me growing up and obviously it’s paying off; I’m very thankful.”

One of those payoffs came in the form of the offer from the Duke baseball program and head coach Chris Pollard, who is building yet another ACC powerhouse in Durham, N.C.

Fischer is part of a Blue Devils 2022 recruiting class that includes (so far, anyway) shortstop Cole Young (No. 8-ranked), righthander Kassius Thomas (No. 40) and lefthander Oliver Santos (No. 60) among several others.

“I’m excited to see where I’m going to be in the future,” Fischer told PG. “I hope to develop a lot at Duke and those coaches have my back; they’re looking for the best for me. Even in the classroom you’re going to get pushed there, too, and I think that’s good. It’s a good life learning experience and it’s going to put me in a good spot to succeed in the future.

“Walking in there my freshman year, the goal is to earn a spot in the starting lineup,” he continued. “All these kids are studs and I’m just going to walk out there with the best of them and make it happen with them. Those teammates are going to become brothers so I’m excited.”

Fischer’s parents didn’t accompany him to Fort Myers this week so he instead came down with his buddy Gold Team teammate Logan Duffy, a 2022 outfielder and a top-500 Old Dominion commit from Toms River, N.J.

Both Jersey boys knew that once they stepped out on the fields at the jetBlue Park Player Development Complex, the Lee County Player Development 5-Plex or at Terry Park that everyone they played with or against was going to be pretty darn good; it is what it is. That said, those challenges also present opportunities and it’s up to each individual player to make the most of the situation.

“Coming into this, I was very confident,” Fischer said. “In the games here, the pitchers are showcasing, too. They’re going to bring the heat and they’re going to show their off-speed pitches but you’ve just got to do what you can do...Their best and my best are going to collide and we’re going to see who wins.”

And there’s was one last thought Andrew Fischer wanted to share, perhaps aimed at those of us out there who might be a little longer in the tooth and perhaps a little more cynical than we need be. Maybe it was all that SW Florida sunshine working its late December magic.

“I’m really optimistic about 2021; it’s only up from here,” he concluded. “2020 was a great year for me committing to Duke, knowing that I’m going to further my academic and athletic careers at that university...

“I’m excited to see what 2021 brings; I’m going in with a positive outlook. I’m getting it started right already, coming right off (the Under-Main).”

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