BBB Top Prospect Countdown #7: Dustin Fowler
After being drafted in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB draft, our seventh ranked prospect Dustin Fowler elected to sign with the Yankees signing for an over-slot $278k. Fowler endured two lackluster seasons as a professional before breaking out and beginning to reach his full potential in 2015. At 20, Fowler competed in the Arizona Fall League where he continued his career year against competition more “MLB ready” than he. Fowler started the 2015 appearing on most prospects in the 20s, but now, you’ll find him on nearly every person’s top ten Yankees prospect list, and he ranks as the BBB’s seventh best prospect with the potential to hop into the top 5 by the end of the season as he will play this season at 21 years old.
|Photo Via Scout.com's Pinstripe Plus|
The Yankees drafted Fowler’s raw talent based off his athletic ability, with the hopes that their minor league coaching staff would help him improve as a player. This transition from a solid athlete to a solid baseball player was timely as Fowler just .241/.274/.384 with no home runs and a high 23 strikeouts in 112 at-bats with the Yankees Gulf Coast League team.
But Fowler would show improvement at the plate in 2014, particularly with his power numbers. Fowler hit to a slash line of .257/.292/.459 with nine homers, 13 doubles and six triples, all in 66 games. He also decreased his strikeout percentage at the plate from 18.4% to 16.4%. One aspect of Fowler’s game that hadn’t reached its potential was his base running ability as he stole just three bases. Still, Fowler’s 2014 campaign put him in most Yankees prospect rankings in the 20-30 range, but Fowler’s breakout 2015 season is what puts him in nearly every top 10 entering this season.
Fowler began the season in single-A Charleston hitting to a career clip of .307/.340/.419 After being called up to Tampa he continued playing well and finished the season hitting .298/.334/.394 with five homers, 20 doubles and five triples. He also stole 30 bases and was caught 13 times as he was much more aggressive on the base paths. Still not satisfied, Fowler said he still has room for improvement.
“[I was] Trying to get more walks, see more pitches, get deeper in the count. Sometimes I’m too aggressive. I trust my hands too much right now and it hurts me in cases. Stealing bases, I can get better, work on that, get a little bit quicker… get jumps and figure out how to read balls a little bit better and a little quicker,” Fowler said to HardballScoop.
Dustin Fowler will probably start this season where he left off in 2015 – with the Tampa Yankees. With a good showing in Tampa, he could jump up to Trenton by midseason, much like he did last year between Charleston and Tampa. When he gets to the majors, Fowler projects out to be a guy who should hit 20-25 homers and swipe 20 bags at the major league level, all while hitting in the .280s or .290s.
“He’s strong, he has bat speed, his routes are good, he’s a plus runner, he’s getting better and better all the time,” Tampa Yankees manager Dave Bialas said. “It’s good for a player like Fowler to see some older players.”
Fowler will be over a year younger than the average player in high-A ball so if Fowler can make it to Trenton in 2016 and play well, he could be in the major leagues by the end of 2017 where he will still be just 22 years-old. Some scouts want to continue seeing Fowler improve, and they want his power numbers to reach their potential before they are convinced. On the other hand, other scouts are sold on Fowler as one of the premier prospects in the Yankees farm system. You can mark the BBB with the category that sees Fowler as the real deal and someone who could make noise in the big leagues.
MLB Comparison: David Peralta (Arizona), Johnny Damon.
You can keep up with our full top 30 list with links to our breakdowns HERE.
You can view his minor league stats here.
2015 Arizona Fall League stats: 16 games, 61 AB, 14 runs, 17 hits, 2 doubles, 0 triples, 2 homers, 7 RBI, 25 TB, 3 BB, 10 SO, 7 SB, 0 CS, .279 AVG, .313 OBP, .410 SLG, .722 OPS, 0 E
Article by: Chad Raines
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