By Steve Svetovich
Dustin Fowler does not get the notoriety of some of his Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders teammates, but his hustle and “gamer” approach bring him in front of the pack.
It’s hard not to notice Fowler’s scrappy style and hustling nature.
And it was that approach that really shined Sunday, April 30, when he hit for the cycle and totaled five hits, including a walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lead the RailRiders to a 7-6 win over Indianapolis.
Fowler hit his game winning shot to right field. His second double of the game moved teammate Tyler Wade to third base in the bottom of the ninth. Wade then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
Fowler, 22, a native of Dexter, Georgia, hit a single and scored in the seventh, doubled and drove in a run in the fifth and tripled and scored in the bottom of the first.
The five-hit game raised his season batting average to .293. He has three triples, five doubles and four homers while driving in 12 runs in the first 20 games.
Currently ranked the New York Yankees No. 8 prospect, Fowler does not get the publicity of his left field teammate Clint Frazier, but his production speaks for itself.
And if you know baseball and watch him play, it is easy to see a diamond in the rough.
Drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2013 June amateur draft, Fowler has quietly worked his way up the ladder to Triple-A performing well at every level. He consistently shows a combination of some power and speed while scoring runs, driving in runs and stealing bases.
Last season in. 574 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton, he batted .281, with 67 runs, 88 RBIs, 30 doubles, 15 triples, 12 homers and a .341 on base percentage. He also stole 25 bases for a second consecutive minor league season.
Fowler was raised in rural Georgia where dirt roads are abundant and traffic lights are few and far between. He hunts like almost everyone else in his hometown, but baseball has always been his passion.
He was more than happy to accept the $278,000 the Yankees offered him after he was drafted. After all, baseball is his dream.
Fowler, who bats and throws left, is a lean 6-0, 185-pounds. Swift on the bases, he also shows range in the outfield from his center field position.
He batted .333 with two triples in his second spring training with the parent club while rubbing elbows in the outfield with the likes of Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. He certainly did enough to impress New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Modest yet confident, Fowler speaks in a bit of a southern drawl and he has the cowboy boots to fit the part.
But the main thing is he has made progress and performed well while moving quickly up the ladder. At press time, he had hits in 11 of his past 12 games. He has shown a knack for hitting in the clutch and appears to thrive in those situations.
It may not be too long before we see this young man in New York Yankees pinstripes.
He certainly has the talent and the make up.