With Blue Jays prospect Anthony Alford being designated for assignment earlier this week, the time is now for outfielder Derek Fisher to prove he deserves a spot on the roster that doesn’t involve just being a bench player.
Coming into the 2020 campaign, there was a competition brewing for the 4th outfielder spot on the Toronto Blue Jays roster. Anthony Alford and Derek Fisher were both out of options, and both players had a lot to prove that they belonged on the 26 man roster. The winner would stay a Blue Jay, the other would be designated for assignment.
That competition took a plot twist when the COVID pandemic halted the 2020 baseball season and changed the way the campaign would be played out for the year. As an end result, the rosters were expanded to 30 players and both Alford and Fisher found themselves on the Toronto Blue Jays bench to begin the season.
Fast forward a month later, and only one of the two players remains on the Jays roster.
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With Anthony Alford being designated for assignment this past week, it appears as though Fisher may have emerged ‘victorious’ from the competition and will most likely finish the season on the active roster. There will be other internal prospects on his heels like Billy McKinney and Jonathan Davis, but Fisher has the added benefit of being out of options while the other two players still have options for this season. This makes it more difficult for the management to send him to the alternate squad without exposing him to other teams in the league.
In 46 games with the Blue Jays since last summer, Fisher has a .171/.287/.390 slash line with six home runs and 12 RBI’s in just 105 at-bats. Fisher’s main asset is his plus speed, but he only has one stolen base since joining the Blue Jays and just can’t seem to find a way to get on base to utilize that speed anyway. Not the most impressive numbers by any means, but Fisher has simply not earned the confidence from Charlie Montoyo to earn more reps on the field, which in addition to his latest injury, is why he finds himself on the bench and with limited at-bats.
If there was ever a time that Fisher needs to prove that he is more than just a bench player, that time would be now. One could argue that Fisher does have the necessary tools to be an everyday player, but he has never found the consistency to secure or steal a spot from any of the Blue Jays’ current outfield core. While he does have the plus speed and average defence, bench players are a dime a dozen, and a younger prospect with the same capabilities are always a stone’s throw away in the MLB.
What makes this scenario more difficult for Fisher is that he was recently placed on the 10-day injured list with a tight quad and hasn’t appeared in a game since August 4th. Not really a great time to be going down with an injury considering his main competitor was just sent packing and Fisher can’t appear in a game because of an injury.
This scenario could become even more complicated next season if the Blue Jays choose to have top prospect Austin Martin play in the outfield instead of at second base or shortstop. There is no current indication as to where Martin will be playing for the Blue Jays in the near future, but Fisher’s future North of the border could be in jeopardy if they decide to throw one of their top prospects in the outfield.
In the end, it will be up to Fisher to show that he can prove to the Blue Jays management that he deserves a spot on the Blue Jays roster this season and beyond. With Alford’s recent departure, Fisher needs to find a way to convince Charlie Montoyo that he deserves some time in the lineup this season and can produce when he steps into the batter’s box. Without an impressive end to the 2020 campaign and out of options moving forward, the Pennsylvania native could be donning a new jersey next season if he doesn’t start to contribute more than being just a bench player.