In the 2005 amateur draft, the Orioles made a concerted effort to spend some of their later picks on college seniors with a passion for baseball and good makeup. Mark Fleisher, the 14th round pick in 2005, is very representative of this profile. He was both the best hitter on a struggling Radford University team and one of their starting pitchers. As a pro, he has stuck strictly to hitting and the Orioles have not been disappointed.
DOB: 09/18/83 Height: 6-4 Weight: 235 B/T: R/R
Mark Fleisher's age 22 season:
Hitter-unfriendly environments have suppressed Fleisher's raw statistics thus far, but the Orioles are very encouraged at his power potential. He has trouble with breaking pitches, but has worked hard to make some progress with them. Fleisher has good bat speed but will likely never hit for exceptional averages. He isn't afraid to work deep into counts, though, and will boost his OBP with plenty of walks. With his large frame, he is not exactly a threat on the basepaths. Fleisher is, however, a decent athlete, which will keep him from being labeled a base-clogger by a few of the dimmer bulbs in the announcing booth.
Although right-handed, Fleisher gets tied in knots by opposing southpaws. He has a habit of making his longish swing even more exaggerated against them, which results in an all-or-nothing approach. One Sally League observer told me he believes the problem is correctable with experience and O's officials agree.
As a former pitcher, Fleisher has an extremely strong arm that he rarely gets to show off as a first baseman. Although he is a hulking 235 lbs., Fleisher has enough agility and defensive prowess to be an average first baseman in the long run. His long reach plays well on errant throws, although he needs more experience to smooth out his footwork.
Fleisher will start 2007 on the Frederick Keys. It will be his first opportunity to show off his power at a park that won't completely sap his numbers. With a fast start, he could see some time in Double-A Bowie, since there will be no one blocking his advancement. Fleisher has an advanced feel for hitting and, given the context, is somewhat of a breakout candidate for 2007.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com