Name: Dustin Fowler
DOB: December 29, 1994
Batting and Power. For years we've been touting Fowler as a potential high-average hitter long-term because he had the hitting basics in place at a very young age -- advanced pitch recognition, above average plate discipline, a patient yet aggressive approach, an ability to use the whole field, and an extremely quick bat with a loose swing -- and the consistency continues to improve as he matures, so much so that is considered one of the better overall hitters now. That innate hitting ability is just now being tapped, however, as the recently turned 22-year old still has some considerable hitting ceiling left, especially as he learns to be a bit more patient and make taking walks a higher priority in his overall approach. He knows the strike zone better than most, he has a lot more plate patience than he's shown, and if he can learn to just sit on his hot zones he could be an even better and more consistent hitter. The looseness in his swing and great bat speed has always combined to give him intriguing average or better long-term power potential too, and that power is starting to show up in games more and more. In fact, it's to the pull-side where there is a chance the power could trend towards the above average realm as he continues to get stronger, especially if he were to eventually play half of his games at Yankee Stadium. He has legitimate.300 hitting ability and 20-plus home run power potential.
Base Running and Speed. Fowler is more aggressive than speedy but that shouldn't detract from what is arguably just a tick above average natural speed. He has made improving his speed a priority since his selection out of high school and improve it has, and with that has been a growing confidence stealing bases too. He has averaged 27 stolen bases over the past two seasons and that appears to be his ceiling both short-term and long-term, perhaps even a tick less as he continues to get bigger and stronger. He will get caught stealing a bit too often simply because he's not as fast as others but he should still 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. The improvements Fowler has made hitting-wise, power-wise, and running-wise over the years have all been quite palpable, but none more so than on the defensive side of the ball. Initially appearing to be destined for a corner outfield spot only -- most likely in left field given his somewhat average [to tick above average] arm strength -- he has continuously improved his range and feel for the position over the years, so much so that the then fringy centerfielder has now become one of the more reliable defenders at the position. He has the ability to play there in an everyday capacity now and be an average defensive centerfielder who can make above average plays at times. Still, even with his improvements he's not nearly as rangy as some of the elite centerfielders out there so he isn't the ideal defensive option but a viable option nevertheless.
Projection. Fowler has almost willed himself from initially projecting as more of 'tweener' [one who best projected as an eventual big league reserve outfielder because wasn't the best centerfield option nor had the above average power of a corner outfield type] to more a full-fledged starting big league outfield option over the past few years and it's because of a lot of tireless work being done behind the scenes. He has improved his speed and base running abilities, that improved speed has given him viable centerfield range, the hitting has and continues to improve, and the power continues to tick on an upward trajectory too. In fact, there are a lot of comparisons to former Oakland A's and current Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick for the aforementioned reasons, and like Reddick he doesn't project to be a high-walks guy despite a patient approach and may have to eventually slide over to a corner outfield spot long-term as there almost inevitably will be better defensive centerfield options along the way even though he has the ability to man the position most admirably.
ETA. 2018. Fowler has nothing to prove in Double-A after an All-Star season there last year. He seems slated for Triple-A this coming season and while it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he could get a late-season or September call-up to the big leagues later in the year with another strong minor league season, it does seem unlikely given his need to be placed on the 40-man roster first. It seems more likely he won't see his first big league action until the following year.