After going undrafted in the 2019 Major League Baseball Amatuer Draft in June, Andy Fisher finally got a phone call from the Cincinnati Reds.
The Dayton Dragons crafty left-handed pitcher has been nearly untouchable ever since.
Fisher, a Bowling Green, Ohio native who pitched collegiately at the University of Illinois, was named the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Month for July on Monday. In six starts between Greeneville (Tenn.) and Dayton last month, Fisher allowed just one earned run in 25 innings on 12 hits and three walks with 27 strikeouts.
“I’m loving this,” Fisher said. “Being around this high level of baseball is somewhere I never thought I’d be. It’s amazing.”
Fisher is the second Dragons player to be named Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Month this season. Right-hander Ricky Salinas was named the organization’s top minor league pitcher in June.
In four games with Dayton, Fisher is 2-1 and he has not allowed an earned run. He’s allowed just three hits and one walk with 19 strikeouts in 15 innings of work.
After going undrafted, Fisher has a chip on his shoulder, said Dragons manager Luis Bolivar.
“He attacks hitters and throws strikes, mixes up his pitches well,” he said. “That’s all he does is throw strikes. … He’s been great since he’s got here. He doesn’t say much, just goes out and works. When he takes the mound, he does his job and that’s all you can ask.”
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Fisher was a first team All-Big Ten selection as a fifth-year senior for the Illini in 2019, posting a 7-1 record with a 2.75 ERA as a starter. He graduated in 2018 with a finance degree and had already begun on work his masters degree.
After a successful college season, he was hoping to hear his name called in the June draft.
He sat waiting by the phone on June 6 —the day after the three-day draft concluded — hoping to get a phone call to play professional baseball. He had already accepted an internship at a bank in case it never came.
“Thankfully, around 3 or 4 p.m. in the afternoon I got a call from one of the Reds scouts and ended up here,” Fisher said. “It’s been awesome.”
The 23-year-old has relied on his slider more than ever, he said — and it’s worked to perfection. He’s primarily pitched out of the bullpen in Dayton.
“When I got the call to play pro ball, I told myself if I’m going to get beat, it’s going to be with my best pitch,” Fisher said. “So far, it’s worked. It’s been crazy. I never would’ve expected any of this.”
He was reunited in Dayton with another University of Illinois product Bren Spillane, the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year.
“We had some good intersquad battles back in the day,” Fisher said. “It’s good to have someone to show you the ropes because it’s a lot different than rookie ball. They do things slightly different even though it’s the Reds organization.”
In his first start on July 17, Fisher pitched five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts at Kane County and was named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week.
He earned his first career win on July 30, pitching four innings of relief in a 6-1 victory over Bowling Green. He came in for another lefty Reds first-round pick Nick Lodolo.
“He told me when he was in Billings with the rookie ball team there everyone who came in after him absolutely shoved,” Fisher said. “I was like, ‘All right, this sounds good.’ I’m similar to him but about 10 miles slower. I was looking forward to coming in after him, honestly, throw the hitters off. They’re geared up for fastballs and I’m giving them 80 to 85 instead.”
Dragons fall to Captains: Dayton scored three runs in the first inning, but fell to the Lake County Captains 5-4 at Fifth Third Field.
Brian Rey, Jay Schuyler and Miguel Hernandez each had two hits for the Dragons, which fell to 20-23 in the second half. They’re currently four games back of South Bend (24-19) for the second half wildcard.
A triple by Schuyler plated two runs and he later came around to score to give the Dragons a 3-0 after the first inning.
Dragons starter Eduardo Salazar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but the Captains scored four runs on three hits to take a 4-3 lead. Dayton tied the score on a single by Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth inning.
A single by Lake County’s Billy Wilson in the ninth inning gave them the lead for good.
“At the end, nothing came our way,” Bolivar said. “The big hit never came.”
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