HOUSTON -- Astros scouting director Mike Elias has a long history with University of Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher, whom Elias scouted while working for the Cardinals. Fisher was a first-round talent who turned down substantial offer from the Rangers to attend college, so Elias was thrilled to see Fisher available with the No. 37 overall pick Thursday.
Houston took the left-handed hitter with its second pick of the day, the Competitive Balance Round A pick the club acquired last July in the Bud Norris trade with Baltimore. Fisher's college career isn't over, as he's riding a 12-game hitting streak into this weekend's NCAA Super Regionals.
A speedster who has played primarily left field but can handle either of the corner spots, Fisher is hitting .288 with three homers and 23 RBIs entering the weekend. Elias called him a plus-plus runner whogrades 70 on a scout's 20-80 scale.
"As we compiled our Draft board in the past few days, it became apparent the past few days that there's a very strong likelihood we would get some college bats, corner position guys," Elias said. "We're happy about it, because it does fit into some of our needs in the lower Minors. Some power, some advanced corner bats. I do think, as well, it best complements to taking the best high school pitcher in the country with the first pick."
The Astros took San Diego high school lefty Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick before taking a pair of bats -- Fisher at No. 37 and University of Kentucky slugger A.J. Reed with the first pick of the second round (No. 42 overall).
Fisher was a freshman All-American in 2012, and he is batting .290 with 17 homers and 121 RBIs in his three years at Virginia. He took a step forward in the Cape Cod League last summer, cutting down on his strikeouts and leading the best summer college circuit with a .453 on-base percentage.
Before he got to show how much that would carry over, Fisher went down with a broken hamate bone in his right hand 15 games into this season. He did return after six weeks and homered in his second and third games back. Fisher has shown more pop at Virginia than he did with wood bats on the Cape, and he projects as a plus hitter in terms of both average and raw power.
"This past year, he was off to a great start and broke his hamate in March and had a surgery, and came back abnormally fast from the surgery," said Elias. "And right away, he started hitting home runs and hitting again. There's really no concern about that."
Despite his speed, Elias envisioned keeping Fisher in one of the corner-outfield spots.
"He's played mostly left field throughout his career, wherever he's been," Elias said. "I don't think his value is whether we'll be able to slot him in center field or not. We think the bat is going to play in the corner-outfield spot."
The 2014 First-Year Player Draft runs through Saturday, with MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days beginning with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.