Oakland Athletics Minor League Spotlight: Dustin Fowler

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Dustin Fowler
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Dustin Fowler /

Dustin Fowler may not be playing this season, but the A’s young outfielder figures to play a major role next year.

Dustin Fowler did not have your average major league debut when he arrived in June this year. Instead, Fowler found himself carted off the field after he ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee while playing defense.

Fowler was acquired last month by the A’s in the trade that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees. Billy Beane‘s risky trade should pay off big time if Fowler’s healthy next season.

The A’s expect Fowler to be ready in time for spring training next year, if all goes well with his recovery.

At 22, Fowler figures to play a crucial role in the A’s on-going rebuild project. Fowler was recently rated as Oakland’s 3rd best prospect according to MLB.com. Fowler ranks just behind Franklin Barreto and A.J. Puk.

It is important to note that Fowler also placed among the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. MLB.com ranks Fowler at No. 77 on their Top 100 list.

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In 70 games this year with New York’s Triple-A affiliate, Fowler slashed .293/.329/.542 with 13 HR and 43 RBI. In 2016, Fowler spent the year in Double-A and slashed .281/.311/.458 with 12 HR and 88 RBI.

The A’s are banking on Fowler to make a full recovery and compete for a starting role next year.

Take A Walk

First of all, Fowler will need to focus on a few things, including seeing more pitches at the plate. Throughout his minor league career, Fowler has not maintained a great walk rate.

He registered a 4.8% walk rate this year in Triple-A and was worse last year in Double-A with a rate of 3.8%. Fowler will need to walk more in order to reach his full potential as an everyday outfielder.

So, if Fowler can improve his approach at the plate, he could provide the A’s with solid production offensively. Outside of Khris Davis, the A’s do not feature much firepower from their outfielders.

While Fowler does not offer the same type of power Davis does, he does possess good bat speed and makes solid contact. Fowler should possess the potential to hit 20 home runs if he is healthy and remains disciplined at the plate.

All of this depends on the health of Fowler’s knee. The A’s took a gamble dealing Gray for Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian.

Fowler and Kaprielian are coming off injuries and will need to prove they are healthy before a proper assessment can be made of the trade.

But if both make strong recoveries, the A’s should have plenty of reasons to be happy moving forward. Fowler has great potential and could play a significant role with the A’s for years to come.

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