Fowler Making Quite The Impression

TAMPA, FL - Dustin Fowler made a solid impression in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year but it got cut short due to injury. He returned this season, however, prepared to make an even bigger impression and he has done exactly that in his time in Charleston and after being promoted to high-A Tampa recently.

[Photo by Mark Lomoglio]

Drafted in the 18th round in the 2013 draft out of high school, Dustin Fowler is an outfielder that possesses all the tools to become a future major leaguer with his combination of speed, defense, and hitting all already being seen from him this season.

He hit a team-high .307 for the Charleston RiverDogs in 58 games there this season after hitting just .257 in the South Atlantic League last year and he's hit a robust .385 through his first eight games with the Tampa Yankees. His combined .315 batting average between the two A-ball clubs leads the entire Yankee farm system among the long-season league hitters.

In fact, the only thing yet to be seen from him is the power part of his game but that’s something that Tampa hitting coach Tommy Slater sees him developing down the road. Slater talked excitingly about Fowler having followed his development since watching him in his pre-draft workouts.

"I’ve seen a lot of Dusty going back to his pre-draft workouts and he can hit," Slater said. "He’s got great hands, bat speed, he’s a good runner and I’m not surprised at all with the success he’s had this year. He’s a guy that all of us in player development, and scouting too, were excited to get this kid in our system.

“The power will come as his plate discipline improves and as he continues to grow as a hitter and gets more at-bats, then you’ll start to see that power come around. With him the biggest thing is with his bat speed and potential power, it’s making sure he goes up there looking for his pitch that he can drive."

One of the key things this year that’s been going Fowler's way compared to last year is his health as he was nagged by a hamstring injury last season that made him miss some time, including the last month of the season. If he can stay healthy then this will the year he finally plays a full season since turning professional.

Fowler still has some things to work on, however, and that starts with his plate discipline where he has 53 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks on the season. It’s something that the coaches have been working on with him, which includes trying to work deeper into counts and developing better pitch recognition. As good as he's been in 2015, Fowler himself admits there’s much room to improve in his game.

“Plate discipline is mainly what I’ve been trying to improve, trying to see more pitches and get more walks," Fowler admitted. "Compared to last year I’ve improved almost every part of my game with this area being the one lagging behind.

"Going into the offseason I worked on getting stronger and faster: I put on about ten pounds of muscle which I think has made me more athletic.”

His hard work in the offseason surely paid off as he not only did really well in Charleston but got a rather quick promotion to high-A Tampa on June 22nd.

“It’s always a surprise when you hear you got promoted," Fowler said. "You never know when it’s really going to happen until it finally does. I obviously love the opportunity to be able to come up here and show what I can do."

What he can do is a little bit of everything. Right now Fowler projects as a top half of the order guy, one that can get on base with his bat and then cause some damage on the base paths by using his speed which he has displayed this season by stealing 22 bases on 29 attempts.

This speed has also translated into better defense too where he has been able to transition from a corner outfielder in his early development to now being an everyday centerfielder.

Obviously impressing everyone down in Charlseton, he’s already making quite the impression on Tampa manager Dave Bialas who had never seen him play until his promotion this past week but is impressed with him none the less, especially with what he does off the field.

“I haven’t seen him enough to tell you what I’d like to see him improve on but as far as what he’s done here in Tampa I’m impressed," Bialas said. "He has a great work ethic and his preparation before the game, you know doing his homework on pitchers. It makes him have a good approach at the plate every at-bat.”

It remains to be seen if the red-hot Fowler will finish the season with the Tampa Yankees, but if he can cut down his strikeouts and increase his walks then it may not be long before he's ready for the next level.

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