Dustin Fowler, now up in Double-A, brings many different aspects of the game to the table.

TRENTON, N.J. – Last year’s Trenton Thunder Opening Day roster had big name prospects such as Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez. Even though many of them moved on to the majors or are playing in Triple-A, a new wave of prospects have made their way to the Thunder, one of them being outfielder Dustin Fowler, a player who can do many different things.

[Story written by Carlos Toro]
Fowler came into this season ranked among the top 15 prospects by many publications but this will the first time in his career he will get to compete in Double-A.

While Fowler has not played many games this season, only two so far this year actually, it's hard to imagine that the numbers he's put up so far are not a flash in the pan. He’s stolen three bases and had three hits in eight at-bats in just two games so far this season.

The outfielder brings a remarkable set of tools that will only continue to grow. He has speed, developing power, better than average contact and a defense that is only continuing to improve thanks to working with outfielder instructor Reggie Willits. His upside gives him the potential to finish the season as one of the highest rated prospects in the organization by season’s end.

Fowler doesn’t think that he is going to struggle a lot with the Thunder. Last year, in Tampa and Charleston, his numbers were very solid. There are aspects of his game that have improved as he got promoted to higher levels in the organization. After the promotion to Tampa, his strikeout rate dropped to 18.4 to 16.4 percent and his walk rate improved from 4.3 to 5.7 percent.
Trenton Thunder Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere said that one thing that Fowler worked on in Spring Training was shrinking his strike zone even more. Fowler thinks that playing in Double-A this season will be beneficial and that he needs to adjust to the pitching.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” Fowler said. “It’s just going to be different and I have to figure out early what pitches to steal bases on. I got a taste of it in the fall [Arizona Fall League] season last year. Hopefully it’ll work out great.”

Fowler, one of the rising star prospects in the organization, is excited to be playing at the next level in the Yankees’ farm system.

“It’s an honor that the Yankees gave me the chance to start out here and maybe keep doing what I did last year and have a strong season,” Fowler said.

Last year Fowler had career highs in batting average (.298), hits (145), total bases and stolen bases (30) across both class-A teams.

Competing in Double-A for the first time in his career, Fowler doesn't think the increase in competition levels is going to bother him too much.

New Trenton Thunder
manager Bobby Mitchell preached base running as one of the key things that he wants to install on his team this season and looks to Fowler as one of the key base running guys. Mitchell, a former outfielder, himself, raved about Fowler’s potential and said that he has a lot of talent.
“I love him and he’s done a great job so far,” Mitchell said. “He works hard and he’s a guy I’m going to be working with a lot. He’s a huge project for me, not because he’s not polished or anything, but he’s very young and talented.”

Fowler, only 21 years old, hit nine home runs in just 66 games in 2014. Many people thought that those flashes were a sign of Fowler progressing into a potential Major Leaguer with a lot of power.

His home run numbers dipped the following year, however, from nine to four. Fowler said that he wants to “regain some of that lost power” for the 2016 season.

But according to Pilittere, Fowler’s power will come to him naturally. His body is still developing, despite being in the minor leagues since 2013. Pilittere thinks that Fowler is at a good place as a developing outfielder and that he wants to work on his overall game, not just his power.

“The power is there and it hasn’t disappeared even though the numbers didn't portray that last year,” Pilittere said. “I like where he is at with his offensive game right now. His approach at the plate is pretty solid.

“I'd like to continue him on that path and I think that power will show up for him,” Pilittere said. “I don't want to get too conscious of being the big power homer type of guy because he can do a lot of things; he can bunt for base hits, he's got really good speed and use the whole field well, he shows adjustability to different speed pitches. I don't want him getting one-dimensional with his game because I think he can do a lot more.”

He is one of the two youngest non-pitchers on the Trenton Thunder, but he also has become one of the focal points of this roster. He exemplifies Mitchell’s small ball and base running mentality and many in the organization think he is poised to succeed this season.

“He needs to bunt and he needs to steal bags,” Mitchell said. “His outfield play is pretty amazing. I’ve seen some pretty good outfielders in my years in this game and he’s right up there.”

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