Like all the other Perfect Game top prospects in the graduating high school class of 2011, Cedar Crest High School (Lebanon, Pa.) senior Derek Fisher will likely make a life-changing decision about five weeks from now.
A 6-foot-2, 215-pound, hard-hitting, fleet-footed outfielder – he has ran a 6.65 60-yard dash – Fisher has signed a letter-of-intent to play college baseball at second-ranked Virginia. He is also projected as an early round selection in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft June 6-8.
He is has his mind set on heading to Charlottesville, Va., in the fall to begin what he hopes will be a successful and satisfying college career, but that hasn’t stopped him from also seeking out 2010 Pennsylvania top prospects Sean Coyle and Jesse Biddle for a little advice. Coyle was PG’s top-ranked Pennsylvania prospect in 2010, and Biddle was No. 2.
“Those are two good kids to talk to,” Fisher said in a recent telephone conversation with Perfect Game. “They were two different kids as far as the draft and college was concerned.”
Fisher viewed Coyle as a player who took a long, hard look at going to college before ultimately choosing a professional career, and Biddle as a guy who wanted to play professionally as soon as possible.
Coyle had signed a letter-of-intent with North Carolina before being selected in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Boston Red Sox. Biddle – who had signed a letter with Oregon – turned pro after being made a first round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies.
“Sean’s look on everything was exactly how I am,” Fisher said. “It was really good talking to him because he was in the same position with him wanting to go to North Carolina … and we were on the same page. The draft was there, but it wasn’t going to be something he was going to push towards and he was just going to play his game – if it panned-out, it panned-out, and obviously it panned out for him.”
Fisher is currently a little more than halfway through his final season of high school baseball at Cedar Creek. His home is in Cornwall, Pa., a town of about 3,500 residents, is located in southeast Pennsylvania, right next door to Lebanon.
His senior season is going well. The Falcons won 10 of their first 12 games in a 20-game regular season, and Fisher went on a tear in games 10, 11 and 12, going 9-for-10 from the plate. He hit eight home runs in the Falcons’ first 12 games.
“I started off a little slow and it wasn’t really a big surprise because every single high school season I’ve always started off slow.” Fisher said. “I came into the season pretty much knowing that I had to stay within myself and take some walks, and that’s definitely a scenario that’s a lot easier said than done.”
He finally found his groove in a game about two weeks into the season when he went 4-for-4 with three home runs and a triple.
“Pretty much after that everything clicked … and right now it just seems like I’m seeing the ball perfectly, and every ball that’s out of zone, and I can see it out of the (pitcher’s) hand,” he said.
Fisher is ranked the No. 14 national prospect in his class by Perfect Game and No. 1 in Pennsylvania. He was a 2011 Rawlings 1st Team Preseason All-American.
He has participated in four Perfect Game events in the past three years, beginning with the 2008 PG WWBA 2012 grads or 14U National Championship in Marietta, Ga., as a member of the Tri-State Arsenal 14U team.
Fisher next played in the 2009 PG WWBA 2009 Grads or 18U National Championship for Elite Baseball Black as a 16-year-old, and continued with his participation in the PG WWBA 2010 Grads or 18U National Championship with Elite Baseball Black last year.
The summer of 2010 was an important one for Fisher. He attended the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., then hooked up with the elite Royals Baseball Club and played in the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
His teammates on the Royals included top prospects and NCAA Division I recruits Michael Kelly (Florida), Mario Amaral (Florida State), A.J. Cole (Alabama), Joey Pankake (South Carolina) and Chris Ellis (Mississippi) among others.
“I went down to the East Coast Pro and I went down to Jupiter just to see how I stacked up against the best competition from around the country,” Fisher said. “Being in Pennsylvania, we have some good players but we don’t have the Daniel Norrises and the Henry Owens and the (pitchers) like that.
“So to go down there and see how I stack up against those kids, I could really rate myself and be honest with myself to see what I needed to work on.”
Fisher said he started the “whole college process” during his sophomore summer at Cedar Crest. Plenty of schools quickly showed interest, but UVA was actually a late arrival on the scene. Once associate head coach Kevin McMullan – a central Pennsylvania native – made his way to Lebanon, he latched on to Fisher and invited him to make an official visit.
“I went down on my visit and pretty much saw that it was the place for me,” Fisher said. “I got to talk to some of the players and I built a pretty good relationship with Steven Proscia.”
Fisher roomed with Proscia, a junior infielder from Suffern, N.Y., on his official visit, and immediately identified some similarities.
“He’s a kid that obviously had a lot of talent coming out of high school and he also had a decision to make whether to sign (professionally) or go to UVA,” Fisher said. “I liked the way that (the UVA players) carried themselves and the guys’ personalities on that team pretty much fit me perfectly.”
Fisher also considered offers from Florida and Vanderbilt.
And now, come the first week of June, the MLB draft will take front and center. Allan Simpson, the director of Perfect Game Crosschecker, has identified Fisher as a top 50 prospect in the draft among all the college and high school players who are eligible.
PG director of scouting David Rawnsley projects Fisher going to the Minnesota Twins with the 30th overall selection of the first round in his most recent mock draft.
“To me it just seems like it’s the cherry on top,” Fisher said of the draft. “UVA has always been the biggest thing for me and that was always the No. 1 thing. I’ve never put the draft in front of UVA – ever. After I made my decision to go there … I knew pretty much I could do no wrong.
“If the draft happens, it happens, but it’s not going to be something I’m going to put in front of anything else.”
Fisher will make that life-changing decision in the coming weeks. The talented small-town kid from southeast Pennsylvania will weigh all the advice he’s received from guys like Coyle, Biddle and Proscia and then embark on the next chapter of his life.
“It was always my dream to play Division I baseball. The thought never even crossed my mind to play professional baseball out of high school. That was definitely something that I didn’t expect,” Fisher said. “I think after being highly recruited, and the rankings that were thrown out about me and how well I did against some of the best kids from across the country, after that I kind of realized it could be a possibility.”