Drafted in the 18th round out of West Laurens High School in Dexter, Georgia, Dustin Fowler was a longshot to make it to the MLB from the day he was drafted. One thing he had working in his favor, however, is superior athleticism. While he had a pretty good season in 2014, Fowler is a wildcard this season who has the tools to be a top prospect by seasons end if he puts it all together.
Drafted in 2013, the Yankees gave Fowler an opportunity to get into action right away. He played 30 games in the GCL, where he fared okay but definitely struggled. He finished the year with a .241/.274/.384/.657 line with eight doubles and four triples. He stole three bases. As just an 18 year old, however, he learned a lot. At instructs he showed a lot of improvement.
At spring training and extended spring training Fowler really turned the corner. With his tools he was able to impress coaches enough that they moved him straight to Charleston, skipping Staten Island altogether.
At Charleston, Fowler showed an excellent mix of power and contact, finishing with a .257/.292/.459/.751 line. His power, patience, pitch selection, and average all improved. Additionally he took a step forward in the field and showed that he can man any position in the outfield. He hit nine homers, six triples, and 13 doubles in just 66 games. He did have an injury midseason which caused him to miss some time.
The scouting report on Fowler is surprisingly impressive given that he was a high school kid drafted in the 18th round. He has above average ability to barrel the ball, and gets good backspin on it. Most feel he has the potential to develop some serious power in the future. He has the tendency to get a bit pull happy, and could see a big improvement in his average if he learns to use the whole field more. At 6-foot-0, 185-pounds he still does have a little room to fill out and improve his power even more.
He has above average speed but he needs to work on reading pitchers. If he can do that then he’ll be able to steal a lot more bases. His speed is more than enough to make him an above average corner outfielder and an average centerfielder. He has received a few Jake Cave comparisons for his tool set, except he has more power potential.
One thing is for sure, Dustin Fowler is on the rise. Only time will tell if he is able to make the next step in his development, but in less than one year he has come all the way from a guy who wasn’t even in the top 50 to a guy who is now ranked #26 by Bronx Baseball Daily. It’s important to keep in mind that Fowler was 2.5 years younger than the league average this season in Low-A. Playing amongst mostly older players he more than held his own.
He will likely begin the season in Low-A Charleston, but there’s a chance depending on how he looks in Spring Training that he could be pushed to High-A to start. If Dustin does start in Low-A, he will likely be pushed to High-A at some point during the season. If he does start in High-A, he will probably spend the whole season at that level given all of the talent that is in front of him. With injuries and ineffectiveness though, anything is possible.
Fowler is probably a one level per year kind of player given his young age and need for more refinement in his game. If he takes a big step forward one year though, he could move faster. His likely ETA is 2017-2018.
The ceiling is pretty magnificent if the stars were to align for Fowler. He could be a 25 HR, 20 SB guy who hits for solid average and a good OBP. Think a .290/.344/.460/.804 batting line. The floor is probably something close to a fourth outfielder type, although at this stage injuries could obviously derail his career. He is not however an injury prone guy.
Fowler is yet another perfect wildcard prospect. He could go from the 26th best prospect to a top 10 prospect with a big year. He still has a lot to prove though and has plenty of room for improvement. He’s one of those guys with the potential to be an important piece on a championship caliber team in the future. If he does, the Yankees hit the jackpot on this late round gem.