By: Tyler Partridge
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, FLA. - Conor Fisk would like to call Toronto his summer home, and the way he’s pitching that could happen sooner rather than later.
After excelling last season at Single-A, his stats show why he is starting to climb the Blue Jays ladder.
The former University of Southern Mississippi star had never been to Canada before he was called up to the Vancouver Canadians in 2015, and although his stay only lasted two weeks he enjoyed the experience and wants more.
“I think when I was 13 or 14 I saw (Canada) from a distance at Niagara Falls, but other than that I’d never been,” Fisk said. “Going to Vancouver was my first time out of the (United States). It was a pretty cool experience.”
Last season was a breakout year for the Wisconsin native as between Dunedin and Lansing he compiled a 12-5 record, a 3.53 ERA, with career highs in wins, innings pitched (127.1), WHIP (1.16), and strikeouts (107).
During his limited time at Vancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium, Fisk soaked in what it was like to play in front of a big, home, Canadian audience - something he hopes to do plenty of as a Blue Jay.
“It’s always good to play in front of crowds because when you play here at the spring training fields in the Florida State League we get about 10 fans a game (actual 2016 attendance was 767),” Fisk said.
“So the more you do that the more prepared you are for when you go to the big leagues.”
Vancouver did have the highest average attendance of any short-season or rookie ball team in the minor leagues last season.
The Canadians, in fact had a higher average attendance than the Jays other three Single-A affiliates (Dunedin, Lansing, and Bluefield) combined. Playing in front of crowds of more than 6,000 loud, Canadian fans may help prepare Fisk for life at the Rogers Centre.
Although the Blue Jays 2014 draft pick enjoyed his stay in Canada he did struggle with a minor culture shock.
“I think the change was the biggest (difference),” Fisk said. “I like to carry change around, because it helps me try and save money but up there – you can have $40 in change!”
“The toonies and loonies. Down here, it’s like four dollars. Up there it’s a lot more. So that was a big difference for me.”