The New York Yankees are bringing up another young player with the potential to make a big impact for the team. Outfielder Dustin Fowler joined the team for the June 29 game in Chicago against the White Sox, but in a tragic turn of events, he injured himself during the bottom of the first inning. He ruptured his patellar tendon when he crashed into a wall while trying to make a catch.
Fowler was considered one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ farm system. News that Fowler was being promoted was first reported by Baseball America.
Fowler is just 22 years old and is a native of Cadwell, Georgia. He’s been playing in the Yankees minor league system since 2013, when he was drafted in the 18th round. Fowler doesn’t use social media.
Here’s what you need to know about Fowler ahead of his major league debut.
1. Fowler Hit 13 Home Runs & Batted .293 in 70 Minor League Games in 2017
According to his MiLB profile, Fowler has hit 39 home runs and batted .282 in 421 minor league games. He didn’t really begin to show signs of any power until 2016, when he spent the season with AA Trenton Thunder, when he knocked in 12 homers and 15 triples.
In the first 70 games of the 2017 season with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders, Fowler hit 13 home runs, with a .293 batting average and .542 slugging percentage. He hit 19 doubles and eight triples. He also has 43 RBIs so far.
Flower also has speed on the bases, with 25 stolen bases in 2016 and 13 so far this year. In 2016, he also had 88 RBIs.
2. Fowler Struggled Early On, But Found Success After He Stopped Focusing on Hitting Home Runs
Fowler’s pro career didn’t get off to a great start. In 30 games in the Gulf Coast League in 2013, Fowler hit just .241 with only nine RBIs. He didn’t hit a single home run. But in 2014, he was promoted to A Charleston River Dogs and suddenly found his swing. He knocked in nine home runs and 41 RBIs, with a .257 average. Since then, he has continued to get better at every level.
In a 2015 interview with TambaBay.com, Fowler blamed his slow start on his efforts to hit a home run every time he went to bat. After the 2013 season, he changed his mind-set and decided to just look for contact.
“Pretty much not worrying about the long ball so much. I think I got caught up trying to hit too many home runs and extra-base hits,” Fowler told TampaBay.com in 2015, when he split time with the Tampa Yankees and River Dogs. “So this year (I’ve) just tried to get barrel control, pick a good pitch and do what I can with it.”
While Fowler was playing in Tampa, he got to meet Jacoby Ellsbury, who was rehabbing from a knee injury at the time. He told TampaBay.com that he picked Ellsbury’s brain to get some batting tips. “Just learning what he does with (batting practice) and … certain fundamentals you can do that would help with my game,” he said.
3. Fowler Says He Doesn’t Spend Time Watching Baseball After He’s Playing
Fowler, who is listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds, told the New York Post that he hasn’t really been paying much attention to how well the Yankees are doing.
“I don’t watch baseball after being at the field all day,” the center fielder told the Post. “I’m pretty worn out by my day.”
The Yankees are hoping that Fowler could be another Brett Garnder and are particularly impressed with his limited walk total. In 70 games this season, he’s only walked 15 times, but his on base percentage – currently at .329 – is still good and continues to climb.
“As with most hitters, when they learn to be more disciplined at the pitches they swing at and they develop physically and gain experience, you see power start to come around,” said Gary Denbo, the Yankees’ vice president of player development, told the Post. “With his added strength and experience and knowledge of the strike zone, we’re starting to see the results of his work in concentrating to be a more disciplined hitter.”
Fowler also told the Post that he’ll do anything to win games, even sacrifice himself. He’s ready to dive and run into walls to make catches.
4. Fowler Got a $278,000 Signing Bonus & Passed on His Georgia Southern Commitment
Fowler fell to the 18th round of the 2013 MLB draft because he was committed to attending Georgia Southern University. However, the Yankees still drafted Fowler.
According to his scouting report, he was the biggest over-slot signing by the Yankees, who offered him a $278,000 signing bonus.
Fowler isn’t related to Cardinals centerfielder Dexter Fowler.
5. Clint Frazier Called Fowler ‘the Most Polished Player I’ve Ever Seen’
During spring training, Fowler impressed Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who told the New York Post that Fowler sung the bat well and has played good defense. “You kind of see a young man growing up in front of you, is what we’re seeing,” Girardi said.
Fellow Yankees prospect Clint Frazier had even stronger praise for his teammate.
“He flies under the radar in a lot of ways. I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves,” Frazier told the Post. “But he’s the most polished player I’ve seen as a position player since I’ve been here. It’s exciting to play alongside of him.”
Even Aaron Judge praised Fowler’s skills, telling the Post that he’s a “special kid.”
One reason why Fowler flies under the radar is his decision to stay off social media, unlike Frazier. He also said he has a low-key group of friends in his native Georgia.