It was an ordinary fall season game for Jameson Fisher and the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, their 3rd-to-last contest before packing it up for the winter to get ready for the long grind of the spring season. Fisher was on 2nd base, which was a normal occurrence, as his previous season he had a .481 on-base percentage. The pitcher spun and he dove back into the base, as he had done over his life hundreds of times. However, this time Fisher could not get up.
“I realized I couldn’t get up and then I realized I couldn’t move my arm,” Fisher said. “Thats when the pain started to set in and I realized what was going on. All my teammates ran onto the field and it was sinking in how bad this could be and it could be going down a dark road.”
At first, the doctors thought it was possible the injury was not as serious as feared and Fisher could avoid surgery. Unfortunately, the pain persisted and Jameson visited Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon. After Dr. Andrews reviewed Fisher’s shoulder, he gave Jameson the news that it was a full labrum tear and he was going to be out for the entire upcoming season.
“When I found out it was torn, everything went blank, it was like a blur, I couldn’t even listen to everything else that was said,” Fisher recounted. “We got in the car with my dad and I tried to hold it in until we got home, but I just started breaking down.”
Fisher credits his faith in God for not allowing him to wallow in self-pity after the injury and he immediately tackled rehabilitation and helped the team any way he could.
“I didn’t want to be like “‘why me?’,” injuries are a part of the game and it gave me an opportunity to see the game from a different perspective. I started looking at games from a coaching perspective and helped the guys when possible. I really needed to find a role on the team and when I found that role it became a lot easier. It wasn’t easy of course, it was a big season for me personally and the team. The team won a conference championship that year and it was really tough not being a part of that.”
Fisher had another minor surgery on the day the Southeastern Lions won the championship, but that didn’t keep him away from his fellow teammates.
“I had hernia surgery that morning and they advised me to not go to the game, but I was not missing that. I got a big lounge chair and was half asleep during the game because of the meds, but I got to see them win the championship. The thing that kept me motivated was thinking of my next year and getting back to that level and doing better things.”
Fisher did come back better than he was before and after missing all of the 2015 season, he led college baseball in both batting average (.449) and on-base percentage (.577) for the 2016 regular season. Prior to the 2016 MLB draft, Fisher was garnering heavy interest from a number of teams and his advisor told him that at least 5-6 teams had him in their plans as high as the 2nd round. In a strange twist, the White Sox weren’t one of those teams.
“Honestly, going into the draft I didn’t think the White Sox were one of the more interested teams. When the 2nd and 3rd rounds came and went, I figured those other (interested) teams got scared off by the injury. When the 4th came and I got the call, I was like “let’s do it!”” It was a really cool experience and I actually didn’t tell my family right away so they could find out live. Warren Hughes, the White Sox scout who scouted me at Southeastern, was the first to call me and later on Carson Fulmer and Adam Engel reached out to congratulate me as well.”
After Fisher signed, the White Sox had a surprise in store for him at rookie affiliate Great Falls: the outfield. Fisher was a catcher before his injury and was converted to first base after, but had never played a single inning in the outfield at any level.
“I had never played an official game in the outfield prior to Great Falls. It is definitely a new experience. I had an idea they may try to convert me to an outfielder, and it has been really fun. It helps me become more versatile. I feel like I’ve picked it up pretty fast, but still have a lot to work on. It’s all part of the journey. If I didn’t have the struggles I wouldn’t have stories to tell my kids twenty years from now, looking like an idiot learning this new position. The coaches have helped me out a lot. (White Sox Minor League outfield Instructor) Aaron Rowand and (Great Falls Hitting Coach) Willie Harris have been a huge help in learning the outfield. Whenever Aaron is down (in Great Falls) I’ll pick his brain and have a bunch of questions for him. Willie constantly keeps me in the game, even when I have a day off he points things out to me. In BP he will hit me fly balls and it definitely helps me out a lot. It is really cool experience to pick the brains of two ex-big leaguers who played in the big leagues for awhile. They genuinely care about the players and want you to succeed.”
Fisher has a beautiful left-handed swing (video here, courtesy of MLB.com) and his bat and his overall approach at the plate are very polished. Predictably, Fisher has put up big numbers in the Pioneer League, hitting .335/.425/.466 with 12 doubles and three home runs. Jameson credits his family and his high school coach (Jesse Cassard) for helping him craft his approach at the plate.
“It all goes back to my brothers, my dad, and my high school coach. I worked on my swing in the backyard growing up and I worked on hitting a lot. I am going up to the plate looking to put the barrel on a fastball. I swing at first pitches a lot because pitchers try to sneak a fastball by me for strike one, so I am hunting it. If I take the first pitch, I tend to work the count. If the pitcher starts to repeat his pitch selection pattern, I might sit on a certain pitch. I like to watch pitchers cues and seeing if he’s tipping anything. But mostly I am up there looking for a fastball I can put the barrel on and do some damage.”
Fisher has been doing plenty of damage early on his career and the White Sox believe they got a steal in the 4th round. Along with fellow 2016 picks Zack Collins and Alex Call, Jameson Fisher represents an exciting new wave of talent that is poised to move quickly through the system to Chicago. You can read more about Fisher in his prospect profile here.
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