June 29, 2017
The Situation: The Yankees are muddling through a cold streak during a season of unexpected contention. With the Super-2 window having passed and injuries creating needs all over the diamond, they’re calling up much of their vaunted upper-level prospect depth. Today’s newest Baby Bomber is versatile and toolsy outfielder Dustin Fowler.
Background: New York popped Fowler in the 18th round of the 2013 Draft out of West Laurens High School in Georgia and signed him for an over-slot $278,000 bonus. Aggressively assigned to Low-A Charleston in his first full season along with draft classmate Tyler Wade, Fowler kept his head above water in two A-ball seasons and then broke out after the 2015 season in the Arizona Fall League. He followed that up with 57 extra-base hits in Double-A Trenton in 2016, with continually improving power as the season progressed, firmly putting himself on the national radar. Despite his prospect stock improving in 2016, Fowler actually fell from fifth on a weak preseason Yankees top ten to just off the comically loaded postseason team list. He has continued consolidating his skills in the first half at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, hitting .291/.327/.530 while chipping in 13 steals and playing all three outfield positions.
Scouting: Fowler does nearly everything on the baseball field well; the main question is whether he does any one thing at a high-enough level to not get squeezed as an outfield tweener. He’s got that classic smooth lefty swing with solid bat-to-ball skills, but the hit tool has always played down a bit due to an overaggressive approach. He’s actualized above-average raw power into games over the past year, and hasn’t sacrificed hitting ability to add loft. His plus speed helps in both the average and power departments, and he’s posted excellent triples rates in particular in the high-minors despite not playing in terribly triples-friendly parks. He’s also a threat to be a significant base stealer at the MLB level. Fowler’s fast enough and defensively-skilled enough to play a decent center, but he can be a real asset in the corners, similar to how Brett Gardner has provided incredible defensive value to the Yankees in left for most of this decade.