Scouting Yankees Prospect #31: Dustin Fowler

The Yankees selected outfielder Dustin Fowler in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of West Laurens High School in Georgia. He had a solid first full season with the Charleston RiverDogs last year and, still quite raw, he offers some intriguing long-term upside too.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Dustin Fowler
Position: Outfield
DOB: December 29, 1994
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 185
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

He began his first full season last year in Extended Spring Training but after excelling there the then 19-year old went on to hit a respectable .257 with nine home runs in 66 games for the Charleston RiverDogs.

"I did really well," he said of Extended Spring Training. "Coming out of Spring Training I just came out hot. Every ball I faced was like a beach ball coming out at me.

"It was a good overall season. My power numbers were obviously way better but it was just a bummer with the hamstring issue at the end. Overall though it was a very successful season for me."

He did miss the last two weeks of the season with a strained left hamstring but it wasn't a major issue as he was back playing in games at Instructional League a few weeks later. Looking back at the entire year he is glad he got to experience a lot of firsts and to see the different competition levels between Extended Spring Training and low-A ball.

"Just the overall talent was way better," he admitted. "The pitchers were better. The ball stayed in the strike zone a little more and pitchers loved their changeup so I was just trying to get used to that."

As is the case with many young teenage players, Fowler was just trying to lay a foundation to his game and smooth out the inevitable rough edges coming out from high school.

"I feel like my skills in the outfield gained a little bit and just my overall knowledge of the game improved, my plate discipline," he said. "I still didn't have very many walks but I just learned more about the game and how to play it. It's way different from high school [ball] to the professional level."

Despite a rather patient approach at the plate, he mustered just 13 walks in 66 games. It wasn't as if he was swinging wildly, however, as he struck out just 53 times. He learned though that there is a balance needed between being patient and looking to drive certain pitches, and in that regard his game is still evolving.

"I think as I get more at-bats the walks will start coming," he opined. "Right now I feel like I can hit every pitch still and with the wood bats and pitchers being 90 mph plus consistently I've just got to learn to take them borderline pitches that I used to be able to drive with an aluminum bat and just be patient and take the walks."

Being a bit more patient in the name of sitting on a particular pitch that he can drive better would also help his already impressive power potential. Fowler hit the exact same number of home runs as Aaron Judge did in Charleston and it came in roughly the same number of games played [Folwer hit nine home runs in 66 games; Judge hit nine in 65 games].

While that might be surprising to some, it wasn't a complete shock for Fowler.

"I knew the power was there it was just a matter of time before getting it back. I'm not really a power, power guy but I'm a guy who will consistently hit several home runs a year and then in Charleston I felt it coming back more."

Offensively he still has a lot more developing to do and the same things can be said about his defensive game too.

"Getting more experience in centerfield, learning to get better reads on balls off of the bat and better communication in centerfield, and improving on my base running, those are areas I'd like to improve this coming season. I think once I learn the communication levels in centerfield I think I should be very capable of sticking there."

He had a solid first full season last year. He got better defensively, his patience at the plate improved, the power continued to develop, and he began using the whole field more.

What has Fowler and the Yankees excited though is that there is so much more potential yet to be tapped.

"I feel like I have a lot more improvement coming. My game is still kind of on the raw side so once I learn how to be more patient, get more at-bats, use the whole field more, and kind of figure out the game more, I think there's a lot more left in the bucket for me to improve on.

"I'm excited. I'm getting stronger, faster, everything. I'm excited to get it started back up again. Just overall I'm more in toned shape and a little quicker I feel like," he concluded.


Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2013 Charleston .257 257 13 9 41 33 3 13 53 .292 .459
2013 GCL Yankees1 .241 112 8 0 9 8 3 4 23 .274 .384


Batting and Power. We mentioned after he was drafted in 2013 that Fowler had some long-term ability to be a high average hitter but that there could be some short-term hiccups while the patience develops and as he begins to use the whole field more, and it not only played out that way in 2014 but it probably will continue to play out that way for a while going forward. He shows the requisite patience and strike zone discipline to be a high on-base batter; he just needs to learn when to tone down the aggressiveness on certain pitches. He swings a very live bat with above average power potential to all fields and perhaps even plus power potential to the pull-side, thanks in large part to some impressive bat speed and knack for barreling the baseball.

Base Running and Speed. Fowler is not a burner. He is an average runner, perhaps even a tick above average, but lacking that initial first burst he's the kind of runner who is much better once he's in motion. He is a very good station to station runner but his impact stealing bases is going to be somewhat limited. He has the chance to be a low double-digit stolen base threat as he learns to pick his spots and read pitchers' moves better but it won't be much more than that, especially as he gets bigger.

Defense. Fowler is adequate in centerfield. He shows decent range and a solid arm, enough to potentially play there in an everyday average capacity. However, his defensive game does pale in comparison to other centerfield options so he is most likely destined for one of the corner outfield spots where he could be an average or better defender, probably best suited for left field.

Projection. As it stands right now Fowler is a bit of 'tweener in nearly every aspect of the game; he's not an ideal centerfield option as he lacks the top-flight speed, the lack of elite foot speed doesn't give him top of the order potential, he isn't a high on-base guy yet despite a still rather patient approach at the plate, and he isn't a true slugger even though there is some impressive underlying power potential. However, a little Jake Cave-like, all of those areas of his game are still developing so there is definitely significant upside to his game. In fact, there are already a lot of comparisons to a young Josh Reddick due to all of the aforementioned reasons. There is a lot of work to be done towards tapping that kind of potential but that kind of ceiling is there.

ETA. 2018. Fowler handled the transition to the long-season leagues well last year and doesn't have much more to prove in low-A ball. He should see significant time in high-A Tampa this coming season and, given the fact he is still just 20 years old, he should be a mainstay in their lineup all season.


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