February 18, 2015
Helping amateur players reach their goal of playing professional baseball is the number one focus of the major league draft. While the process is exciting for players and their families, the results can be surprising, with some players getting selected by organizations that had little to no interaction throughout the process.
Such was the case for right-handed pitcher Conor Fisk.
Receiving consistent contact from numerous organizations throughout his senior season at Southern Mississippi, Fisk knew he would be selected somewhere. But he never would’ve guessed he’d be putting on a Toronto Blue Jays hat on draft day.
Surprised and humbled by his 24th round selection, Fisk was excited to begin his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. While the news of joining the Blue Jays was shocking, Fisk is more than willing to put the work in to prove the organization made the right choice.
“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was an exciting moment in my life that has given me an opportunity to continue to play the sport that I love,” said Fisk. “I honestly had no idea. I heard from a few teams before the draft, but not the Blue Jays. With that said, I’m very thankful they have given me this opportunity.”
The selection looked like a solid one, as Fisk had an excellent first professional season with the Blue Jays advanced-rookie ball club in West Virginia. Appearing in 33 2/3 innings, the righty registered 36 strikeouts, maintaining an excellent 9.6 K/9 ratio.
As impressive as his K/9 ratio was in Bluefield, Fisk’s best stat was his 1.158 WHIP. The prospect achieved this while transitioning to relieving. Performing as a starter at every other level of baseball, Fisk admits this adjustment took him a little time to figure out.
“Transitioning to relieving was a little difficult at the beginning, because I was always a starter in my career,” explained Fisk. “I was used to having as much time as I wanted to warm up and in Bluefield I had to learn to get hot fast in the bullpen. It’s much different, but I have developed a routine, just as I did as a starter to help me be prepared for every game I’m available for and it’s still a work in progress.”
Preparing for professional baseball at the collegiate level, Fisk split his time between Wabash Valley College and the University of Southern Mississippi. Thankful for both opportunities; the young pitcher feels each program excelled in certain areas that made the transition easier.
“I feel college baseball prepared me extremely well,” explained Fisk. “My two seasons in junior college was as close to playing pro ball as you can get at the college level in terms of playing the game with guys from around the USA and other countries. My time at Southern Mississippi gave me more experience playing at a higher level. It also gave me the discipline to work and grind every day.”
Continually finding success on the mound comes from Fisk’s approach. Throwing from a 3/4 arm slot, the righty features four pitches: a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Using four different pitches helps Fisk keep hitters off-balanced. But more importantly, it’s the speed and action he uses when winding up that keeps hitters guessing.
“I use a 3/4 arm slot because I try to use the same arm speed and arm action with all of them,” stated Fisk. “This makes all my pitches look like my fastball coming out of my hand.”
Making a lot of memories in college baseball doesn’t compare to the emotions he felt in his final season of high school baseball. After the loss of a teammate and friend, Fisk’s Grafton High School squad rallied together and reached the state finals.
“My best baseball moment was helping to lead my team to state my senior year of high school, after one of my teammates and friend died in a car crash, just before our season began,” Fisk recalled. “Even though we didn’t win the journey, what my team and I did for the community goes far beyond any single achievement I’ve received in baseball.”
The Wisconsin native also had another memorable moment after his senior season when he was selected by his hometown team, the Milwaukee Brewers in the 34th round of the 2010 MLB draft. Honored by the selection, Fisk had to make a tough decision between signing, or pursuing college.
“The Brewers were my hometown and favorite team, so being drafted by them only amplified everything about making the decision,” said Fisk. “Having to make a choice like that wasn’t easy at all. But when it comes down to it I think I made the right choice to pursue college.”
Putting the finishing touches on his off-season routine, Fisk feels he’ll be well-prepared for the challenges of his first spring training. Not knowing what to expect, the 22-year old is hoping to make a solid impact this season in hopes of earning a promotion to a full season affiliate.
“I have followed our off-season strength and conditioning program, as well as doing my own workouts that I’ve learned over the years to keep my body strong and my arm in great shape,” stated Fisk. “I don’t have any expectations for spring training. I just want to go out there and compete the best I can, as I hope to be with Lansing or Dunedin at some point this season.”
Be sure to follow Conor Fisk as he looks to make the jump to a full season affiliate in 2015.