Fisher Making Quick Jump from College to Pro Ball
Mike B. | On 20, Jun 2014
Every student who leaves college has a nervous feeling as they set out into the real world to look for a job and pursue a career.
For Mahoning Valley Scrappers shortstop Austin Fisher, finding a job and career took only about three weeks while the adjustments continue. Fisher is currently the highest drafted player from the 2014 First Year Player draft to be assigned to a team.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, left-handed hitting infielder from Kansas State University was selected in the 13th round of this year’s draft. As a member of the Wildcats he was First Team All-Big 12 and a Brooks Wallace Award Semifinalist in 2013. He is on the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award again this year. Fisher hit .361 in 2013 at Kansas State during his sophomore year and .300 this year in 2014. Upon signing his contract, Fisher was immediately assigned by the Indians to Mahoning Valley where he will serve as the team’s shortstop this season. He welcomes the challenge of transitioning quickly from the college game to a minor league season.
“I’m excited and glad they sent me out right away,” Fisher said. “The sooner I get out here, the more at-bats I can get and quicker I can get adjusted.”
Fisher’s adjustment from college to professional was a bit of a whirlwind to start. He was drafted on the final day of the draft on Saturday, June 7, signed his contract shortly later and flew from his home in Kansas to join the Scrappers in Mahoning Valley in time to be in their Opening Day lineup just six days later.
“I had a couple flights, got delayed at Chicago O’Hare for about four and a half hours, got in (Tuesday), had a bunch of physicals and then got out here practicing,” Fisher said the day before the Scrappers season began. “I’m just trying to get adjusted as fast as possible.”
For Fisher, the adjustment from the college game to the professional game is tough, but joining he has to join a Scrappers team that has had the nucleus practicing in extended spring training in Goodyear, Arizona since March. Most players know one another and have played along side each other for months, if not a couple years. Fisher was still the shortstop at Kansas State just a month ago. However, he’s learning names and becoming a member of the group as quick as he can.
“They all know each other but I’m trying to meet people and learn everyone’s name as fast as possible,” Fisher said. “Everyone is very friendly.”
Another transition most college students have as they enter their new career is finding a place to live. For Fisher, he has a host family for the Scrappers’ season—an experience he’s never had before.
“I’ve never stayed with a host family before,” Fisher said. “They are very welcoming, very nice. They have a couple rules, but we should be able to follow those pretty easy and it should be fine.”
With a career and residence in hand, Fisher has begun his career quickly—but with limited results, so far. Fisher is just 2-for-14 in his first four games on the field. He’s helped lead the infield and the Scrappers to an early 3-3 record, just a game back of first place. A slow start, in such a small sample size, isn’t reason for concern. Scrappers manager Ted Kubiak does feel the adjustment for college players who go straight onto a professional team is a little more difficult than most of them would like to admit.
“If you ask every one of them, probably to a man they will say that it’s not that different, but it is,” Kubiak said. “It’s not that what they’re seeing is that much better than what they’ve played against, but doing it every day against the top guys night after night, that’s hard.
The Scrappers just completed their first home stand—splitting a rain shortened two game series with the Auburn Doubledays—but by the time they return, first round draft pick Bradley Zimmer should officially be on the team’s roster. Zimmer was signed on Tuesday and is expected to join the team on their four game road trip to Batavia and Auburn. Fisher is already joined by Jordan Carter, J.P. Feyereisen, David Speer and Drake Roberts in making the quick conversion from college to the professional game.
But like any college student starting their career, Fisher has some advice from mentors and parents. For Fisher, the words of his father, David, could provide more helpful than most. David Fisher was a 29th round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1992 MLB Amateur Draft. He played five seasons in the minor leagues, including a season as a Batavia Muckdog, the team Austin and the Scrappers currently trail by one game in the New York-Penn League standings.
“He had a long career and hopefully I can match that,” Fisher said of his father. “I know learning from him has been great and he’s taught me a lot of things over the years. I just try to take what he gives me and use it to the best of my ability.”
Fisher’s family won’t be able to make the trip from Kansas to see him play until July. In the meantime, he’ll start his new career on his own, but with some sage advice from his father.
“Be aggressive,” Fisher said. “Put your head down and go to work. Don’t be an issue. Be the one they’re looking to as the solution to the problem.”
A quick transition from college to career, a new work place and a new residence along with advice from dad, new starts in baseball seem quite similar to those entering other lines of work.
Photo: Mike Brandyberry/DTTWLN photographer