Dustin Fowler finished last season tearing the cover off the ball and he's kept it going early in 2017.

SCRANTON, PA -- Dustin Fowler was one of the hottest hitters in the Yankees farm system in the second half last season, finishing his first full season at Double-A hitting .305 with nine home runs after the All Star break. Now in Triple-A, he has picked up right where he's left off and remains one of the more consistent potent hitters around.

Fowler excelled last season overall for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, batting .281 with 12 home runs, and 88 RBI in 132 games played. He started off 2016 a little sluggish though but heated up towards the end of the season, batting .321 in his last 30 games.

“It was good; I started off real slow last year, especially power numbers [wise],” Fowler said. “Second half I was able to fix some little things in my swing, and able to get the power back to where I want it to be.”

His twelve home runs last year were a career-high and they come as a mild surprise given his smaller stature.  Fowler comes in at 6 foot tall, weighing 195 pounds. He discussed being one of the smaller guys in professional baseball and the importance of offseason training to keep up with today’s athletes. 

"Every year me being a smaller person I try to gain as much weight as I can, get a little bigger, get a little stronger, get a little bit faster,” Fowler said. “Right now I feel strong.”

For Fowler, who prides himself on being an all-around player, speed has been a key asset for him too besides his solid hitting and fielding.  Last season he stole 25 bases in Double-A and rounded out a career-high for him in the minor leagues with 15 triples. So far for the 2017 season in Triple-A, Fowler has stolen five bases and has seven triples already.

“[Fowler] is a guy who can do a lot of things for us," Scranton RailRiders hitting coach P.J. Pillitere said. "He can run, he can hit the ball over the fence, he can hit the ball in the gap, and he hits left-handing pitching really well.  [Fowler] is just back to himself and being aggressive.”

Pillitere had the advantage to work with Fowler as the Trenton Thunder hitting coach last season and saw this kind of impact from Fowler coming having working with him for so long.

“What I liked, especially from him and a lot of guys is when you leave them the last day of the season and they look great, and then when they get to Spring Training they don’t look much different,” Pillitere said. “When they don’t look much different you can hit the ground running, pick up where you left off, and you can start to fine-tune and dig into more intricate stuff.”

Fowler at 22 years old gets his first taste of Triple-A this season and inches closer to his chance at the big show.  Thirty five games into the year he discussed what it has been like playing for the Scranton RailRiders.

“It’s great, we have a great field here, great team, and a great group of guys always helps out a lot, got a great mix of older and younger guys,” Fowler said. “You get a little bit experience, older guys teaching younger guys and then having a little bit of energy from the younger guys. It’s going to be a good year. I’m excited to be here, and hopefully win another Triple-A title.”

The third game of the season Fowler belted two home runs with five RBI in a win against the Buffalo Bisons but struggled to find a groove and was batting just .217 through 16 games.

A 2-2 performance in the RailRiders home-series against the Indianapolis Indians on April 28 sparked his play the last few weeks, he went 9-13 that series, and increased his averaged up to .302 by May 6.

“I started off really slow, but the last two or three weeks I’ve really gotten hot and the biggest key is just to stay healthy and kind of keep it going as much as possible,” Fowler said. “With me I try to make things as simple as possible, I just don’t like to overthink things. I’m a big routine guy, do my routine every day, and hopefully stay healthy and keep it going.”

With Fowler’s dream to play in the major leagues well within reach, the New York Yankees feature a stacked up outfield that include Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks. Only an injury or a Yankees trade-deadline move could open a spot sooner, but September call-ups will likely include Fowler especially with his speed.

“I think [Fowler] is on the right track," Pillitere said.  "I think he needs to keep continuing to work on the things he’s working on; improving his pitch selection, which he’s doing a great job of.  He’s on the right track right now.  Consistency is the name of the game for all these guys.  He’s a hiccup away from the big leagues, that’s the only difference.”

RailRiders Manager Al Pedrique is managing Fowler for the first time this season and spoke highly of what he’s seen so far from his outfield prospect.

“[Fowler] is smart enough and he pays attention to details where he will make the adjustments.  He’s going to be fine for the long run," Pedrique said. “Earlier he was anxious to get on the field, anxious to get the season going, and I thought he was trying to do too much. He belongs in this league and I’m sure he’s going to have a great year.”

Fowler can imagine all the accomplishments that are in his potential this season, a season that could very well be just like last year if not more, but his main goal to stay on the field and compete for the organization.   He believes if he does that then everything else will take care of itself.

“Individually I just want to stay healthy and keep the same things going. I think the easiest thing to have a year you want is to stay healthy, so that’s my ultimate goal and I’ll stay through it as much as possible,” Fowler concluded.

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