Derek Fisher (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
The 2014 Houston Astros draft class will always be remembered for the one who got away.
When the team failed to sign top overall pick Brady Aiken, the entire process was automatically labeled a disaster on Houston’s part. However, after Aiken, general manager Jeff Luhnow and company made two really smart selections that have gotten off to outstanding starts in the Minor Leagues: Derek Fisher and A.J. Reed.
This morning, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com made his list of 10 draft picks who have been “quick to click” and looked at five hitters and five pitchers who have shown confidence and potential so far this summer. He listed Reed and Fisher as two of the best hitters and the Astros were the only organization with multiple players on the list.
Here’s what Mayo wrote:
Derek Fisher, OF, Astros:
Some thought this University of Virginia product might land in the first round proper, but ended up going No. 37 overall. Signing after UVa’s College World Series run, the Astros’ No. 14 prospect has hit well in the short-season New York-Penn League. The power hasn’t come yet, but in 92 at-bats, Fisher has hit .359/.449/.424 with 13 steals.
A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros:
The top two-way player in the college game in 2014, the Astros took this Kentucky product (and Golden Spikes Award winner) in the second round for his bat. Reed responded by hitting .306/.420/.516 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 34 NY-Penn League games, earning a promotion to the Midwest League, where the Astros’ No. 15 prospect has homered four times in 34 at-bats.
Fisher was selected out of the University of Virginia in the Competitive Balance Round A with the 37th overall pick. The 20-year-old hit .281 with 30 doubles, 12 triples, 17 homers, 127 RBI, 17 steals and an .825 OPS (.369 OBP/.456 SLG) during his three seasons in college.
Reed is a powerful first baseman from Kentucky who the Astros selected in the second round and 42nd overall. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder led NCAA Division I in home runs (23), slugging percentage (.735) and OPS (1.211), while also leading the SEC in RBIs (73), on-base percentage (.476), walks (49) and total bases (164). He was named the SEC Player of the Year and Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the Year.
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It will take a while for the Astros to recover from losing Aiken, especially perception-wise, around the MLB. However, if Reed and Fisher are able to make big impacts in the organization, the memory of this draft won’t be nearly as painful for everyone involved. As Mayo mentioned, this small stretch of games doesn’t guarantee any long-term success, but it’s still good news.
At this point, I’m happy to see something (anything?) going well for the Astros after now losing two straight games to the Philadelphia Phillies and watching George Springer aggravate his left quad while playing in what was supposed to be his final minor league rehab game last night.
The only other good news I can think of? The Rangers are coming to town tomorrow!