CBB Top 50 Countdown: Number 25 Steven Fischback (Cal-Poly)

The CBB continues our countdown to the 2009 College Baseball season with our Top 50 players to watch. We will be providing one player each day (Monday-Saturday) until we reach number 1.

We continue our list with junior righthanded pitcher Steven Fischback from Cal-Poly. He is from Walnut Creek California and graduated from Las Lomas High School. He ended up as a four year letter winner at Las Lomas taking the team to the CIF North Coast Section championship game in 2005 and a semifinalist in 2006. He was also named the 2005 Diablo Foothill Pitcher of the Year by going 9-1 with a 0.87 ERA. His career record at Las Lomas was 18-6 with a 0.91 ERA.

In his freshman campaign in 2007, Fischback ended up making 10 appearances with three starts. He struggled as he went 2-2 with a 6.98 ERA. The biggest problem with his freshman season was the 14 walks in only 19.1 innings of work.

In 2008, Fischback made the transition to the starting rotation where he had mixed results by having a 5-4 record with a 4.55 ERA and a save in 15 appearances with 14 starts. His control continued to be an issue as he walked 23 batters, hit 13 batters, and tossed six wild pitches in only 85 innings of work.

His summer was spent in the Alaskan Baseball League with the Mat-Su Miners. He made four starts for the Miners without getting a decision. He ended up pitching in 28 innings allowing only seven runs for a ERA of 2.25. He continued to struggle with his control by walking 11 batters in those innings while hitting three batters and tossing three wild pitches. Baseball America listed Fischback as the top prospect in the Alaskan Baseball League. We spoke with Jordan Wyckoff, who served as an assistant coach with the Mat-Su Miners and he stated the following “Steve Fischback was another one of our top arms who had a great mix of plus pitchers.”

  • waltgreenberg

    Here’s another one, Brian, that just left me scratching my head. Does Fischback have significant upside? Absolutely. However, to list him as one of the Top 50 returning college players, let alone in your Top 25, given his college resume up to this point, just lack any credibility.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Really, I guess Baseball America also lacks ANY credibility as he is the TOP player from the Alaskan League.

  • waltgreenberg

    Brian, you’re again missing the point. First off, the Alaskan League (with wood bats) does not translate into college ball results. Second, for whatever reason, last Summer the Alaskan League was not exactly deep in its talent pool; whereas the California League had considerably more quality talent than previous years. Third and finally, Baseball America does not disguise it’s primary criteria for grading players– namely, based on projectability for pro ball. Consequently, it’s listings are call Top Prospects lists; NOT Top college players. As I and others have reiterated, there is a big, BIG difference between the two. Given all the already proven talent at the D-I level, how the heck do you put someone on your self-defined Top 50 College Players list who has yet to perform at anything but a mediocre level on the field in D-I play?

    Fischback may very well be a quality pro prospect, and he may even have a breakout year in 2009. However, based on his resume to date, he is not a Top 100 player going into the coming season; let alone a Top 25 player.

  • waltgreenberg

    Brian, just augmenting my previous comment and providing an example. Fischback may prove to be a superior pro prospect than Ryan Berry (primarily because he his fastball velocity is several MPH higher), but no way is he a better college pitcher. I understand this is a subjective ranking, and I would certainly not enjoy singling out 50 players as my Top 50, but you are simply not being consistent here. Yes, you’re primarily basing your listing on “top pro prospects”, but even here you’re not being consistent because there is no way any scout would classify Joey Wong as a Top 40 prospect amongst current college players.

    Care to place a bet that Ryan Berry has superior across-the-board stats (W – L, ERA, WHIP, K:B ratio) in 2009 than Fischback?

  • http://www.rockchalktalk.com Aman Reaka

    A ranking is a ranking. Sometimes people/websites have sleepers or guys that they just like that may be higher, lower or stuck into their lists that most others would disagree with. That is the joy of a list or ranking. Everyone has differences.

    I wouldnt have this kid in my top 30 either (as a pro prospect) but this is CBB Blogs list and it must be viewed as just that. Respect it, disagree with it, shed your light or opinion but dont belittle it or discredit it.

    Im worried about a few top notch guys being left out of the top 50 that i already have in my top 30 and have yet to be listed. But then again, it doesnt mean MY LIST is the only list that is correct. We all have our opinions and guesses.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Exactly Aman…The list is supposed to promote discussion.

  • Big Bear

    Walt, since you know so much about college baseball, why don’t you set up your own blog site? I wish you would stop bringing Rice players in to the discussions! If you had to choose a top list it would be Berry, Ojala, Evers, Seastrunk, Hague, Mazingo, Beunger, and my favorite Jimmy Baseball!!!! So, Walt give us your top 50, I bet its not that easy.

  • waltgreenberg

    Big Bear, if you bothered to truly read my prior comments you would have noticed that I readily acknowledged development of a Top 50 listing would not be easy, and that I’d have no desire to do so. As for bringing Rice players into the discussion, since I’m most familiar with the Rice guys it is only logical that I use them as examples and for comparison purposes (as I did in comparing Joey Wong to Jimmy Comerota and Fischback to Berry). And as for my Top 50, the only Rice guys I’d have in there based on on-field performance to date are Hague and Berry. Fischback ranked higher than Chris Hernandez of Miami? Yes, I think that’s a wacky scale measuring the relative weights.

  • http://www.rockchalktalk.com Aman Reaka

    I havent fully put my top 50 together at this point, but i wouldnt have Hague or Berry in the mix.
    That may change by the time i actually release it, but as of now, I dont think so.

  • waltgreenberg

    Fair enough, Aman– but that all depends on who you have on your list (in comparison). I’ll acknowledge that Berry is probably borderline (though there have already been 2 – 3 pitchers on Brian’s list that I’d certainly put Berry in front of). It also depends upon what you’re using as your criteria. As I’ve mentioned previously, in response to my ongoing good-natured jabbing with ‘Dores– a guy like Minor of Vandy would most definately rank ahead of Berry as a pro prospect, but as college pitchers the two have been as close to identical over the first two seasons as one could get….and I would project that they have very similar Junior seasons this coming year, as well.

    With regards to Rick Hague, whether he is included or excluded from one’s Top 50 listing is totally dependent upon what middle infielders you have in front of him. Specifically, I’d be very interested in learning what shortstops you’re ranking ahead of him. The kid is a proven 5-tool player after only one year in D-I ball, and playing the final third of his Freshman season with a serious shoulder injury which required Summer surgery. He is a far superior defensive SS than Dietrich of Georgia Tech, hits for a better AVG, and has above-average power for a middle infielder.

  • http://www.rockchalktalk.com Aman Reaka

    Yes, Hague has a chance to make my top 50.

    and i would have to see Berry pitch to compare him to Minor.
    Minor will be close to being in my top 10 or so, so comparing Berry to him (other than pure statistics) would be a big stretch for me.

  • http://www.rockchalktalk.com Aman Reaka

    I apologize. I completely mispoke.
    I had a couple players mixed up in my mind. (as i said i dont really have a list formulated yet)

    Ryan Berry will for sure be top 50 (although he is still behind Minor by quite a bit right now)

    Hague will be very close to the top 50. not sure yet.
    and yes Hague will be above Dietrich i do believe.

  • waltgreenberg

    Aman, again, it all depends on what criteria you are using. It is very clear that Brian, as with BA and Baseball Prospectus, is primarily focused on the most projectable pro prospects (with some exceptions, e.g., Joey Wong) as opposed to prior D-I level, on-field performance.

    Since Ryan Berry’s heater tops out only in the low 90s, he’s not viewed as an elite pitching prospect from an MLB scout’s perspective. However, his bread and butter pitch is a biting knucklecurve and, as with any Rice pitcher who has developed through the system, he has added a quality changeup to the mix. He has excellent control and, most important, is a very smart pitcher and fierce competitor. I have absolutely no problem with him being tabbed behind Minor, especially if MLB projectability is a leading criteria, but he has proven to be a superior college pitcher than a number of guys already ranked in Brian’s Top 50.

    As for Rick Hague, I’m going to be very curious what middle infielders you have ranked ahead of him. I’m not sure if you’ve seen him outside of his two CWS games (when he was playing with a badly injured shoulder which was effecting both his hitting and defense), but the kid brings the entire package– outstanding range and arm in the field, excellent AVG and OBP, above-average extrabase power and is a very good baserunner. And he should only get better as he continues to adjust to the speed of the college game and further matures as a player. In my years of following the Owls, he’s the most complete player I’ve witnessed since Vince Sinisi in 2002 – ’03 (as he’s a better defender than Josh Rodriguez, and has more pop than either Savery or Brian Friday). As far as SSs go, his Freshman year compared quite favorably to the first college seasons of Horton of UNC and Beckham of Georgia.

  • Glenn Hoynes

    If you guys are putting lists together, I’m guessing you’ve seen most of these players?

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    One of the staff members has seen each of these players in person play.

  • big green

    Just wondering I have seen a lot of list talk about Brian Pearl out of Washington, do you know anything about him?

  • http://www.rockchalktalk.com Aman Reaka

    Pearl should be in my top 50
    or close to it

  • junior07

    I can’t understand how you become a top prospect when the highlight of your bio is “struggles with control. If a pitcher can’t throw for consistant location it usually means bad mechanics, which generally leads to arm problems.

    How do you become a top prospect when you can’t throw strikes and you will more than likely develop arm trouble?

    Not being a smarta$$. It’s a sincere inquiry.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    I know your not trying to be smart, but when Baseball America names you the Top prospect in even a down Alaskan League means you are doing something good. He might have came into school with bad mechanics and still working on them.

    I talked with a coach in the Alaskan League that thought he was the best player in the entire league and should be a very high pick.

  • baller

    This guy is the Friday pitcher for Cal Poly and likely leads them to NCAA. Great call on another top player in California. Brian, I think you make a lot of guys happy if you just pick players from Texas. Steven was on the hill when this 17u won in East Cobb in 2005. He won there as a kid (15u) as the starting pitcher as well. Odds are he is a beast this year.

  • junior07

    Well, being a local, I’ll have plenty of opportunitues to give this kid a look and will take every advantage to do so.

    Doesn’t really matter what someone did when they were 15 or 17 in East Cobb. He’s pitching to Division I hitters that know the 10th commandment of baseball. “A pitcher who hasn’t got control, hasn’t got anything”

    I truly hope he is a beast, Poly could use some pitching this year, that’s for sure.