Mark LoMoglio

Here's a scouting report on Tampa & Charleston outfielder 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 set out to improve in a lot of areas after a mini-breakout in 2014 and wound up doing exactly that in his first full year of the long-season leagues in 2015.

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

Batting and Power. Ever since he was first drafted we mentioned that Fowler had some long-term ability to be a high-average hitter but that there would be some initial growing pains to get to that point and it has certainly played out that way through his first three professional seasons.  He always had the requisite advanced pitch recognition, patience, and plate discipline to hit for higher averages but just needed to fine-tune that balance between being a little more patient and a little less aggressive, and he did that extremely well in 2015 as he hit a career-high .298 between the two A-ball levels.  He is still trying to walk that fine line these days but he at least now knows his hot spots in the strike zone and he still has a bit more hitting potential than he's shown, especially now that he's using the whole field more and still has room for improvement in that regard.  Just like with his overall hitting, his power is still very much in the beginning stages too.  He generates a ton of torque with above average bat speed and swings a very loose bat, and that combination gives him average or better power potential to all fields.  However, he's also shown a lot more power potential to the pull-side that suggests above average power potential could be forthcoming as he continues to mature and get stronger.

Base Running and Speed. Fowler hasn't just improved his hitting, he's one of the few who has been able to improve his speed too.  Once an average runner, perhaps just a tick above average, he went into last offseason with the sole goal of improving his speed and he did exactly that.  Now more of a full-fledged above average runner, he stole 30 bases in 2015 [ten times more than he did in 2014].  Part of that was his improved speed for sure but he also picked up his aggressiveness on the base paths and learned to read pitchers' moves better.  It remains to be seen if he can be that can of impact base stealer as he gets older and bigger, but he still should remain a solid double-digit to 20-plus stolen base threat for the foreseeable future, and an above average station to station runner overall.

Defense. Fowler's improved speed aided his defensive abilities in centerfield too.  Once merely adequate in center he's now a rock-solid defender there, showing the solid across the board abilities between his range and arm to man the position in very capable fashion in an everyday capacity if need be.  Plain and simple, he's an average defensive centerfielder who can make above average plays at times.  Even with his improvements, however, he's not nearly as rangy as some of the elite centerfielders out there so he still best projects long-term as an above average defensive left fielder who can play all three outfield spots if called upon. 

Projection. Through the first two years of his development Fowler had always projected more of a 'tweener', one who wasn't the best centerfield option given his speed does pale in comparison to others and then also might not have the kind of power potential to slide into one of the corner outfield spots as an everyday outfielder either.  While some of that still rings somewhat true even to this day, he has proven that he has the all-around sound game to be an eventual starting big league outfielder in some spot.  Every area of his game has improved; hitting, speed, defense, and power, and all four areas still have a lot of untapped potential too.  There's some legitimate comparisons to current Oakland A's outfielder Josh Reddick for all of the aforementioned reasons and like Reddick he has the chance to be one of the more complete solid all-around players someday if he keeps progressing like he has.  And also like Reddick, Fowler, who has a very good idea of the strike zone and the kind of patience to draw a good number of walks, probably won't ever be a high on-base guy due to his aggressive approach but still remain quite productive.

ETA. 2018. Fowler split time between the two A-ball levels in 2015 and handled himself quite well upon his promotion to the Florida State League.  While it's certainly plausible that he could see an immediate promotion to Double-A Trenton to start the 2016 season it seems more likely that he'll find himself back in high-A Tampa to start the year before finishing the season out in Trenton.

2015 Tampa .289 246 11 1 15 29 15 43 12 .328 .370 .698
2015 Charleston .307 241 9 4 31 35 11 47 18 .340 .419 .759
2014 Charleston .257 257 13 9 41 33 13 53 3 .292 .459 .751
2013 GCL Yankees .241 112 8 0 9 8 4 23 3 .274 .384 .657

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