By Alan Matthews
August 18, 2004
The Rockies saved $9.25 million on Larry Walker’s contract when they traded him to the Cardinals in early August. They began putting that savings to use on Tuesday, signing 14th-round pick Dexter Fowler for $925,000.
"Moving Walker’s contract freed up some money," Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt said, "so it’s
almost like acquiring another player in the trade." Colorado received lefthanders Chris Narveson and Luis Martinez, plus righty Jason Burch, for Walker.
Baseball America rated Fowler as the 30th-best prospect in the 2004 draft, but he fell because of concerns about his signability and the strength of his commitment to the University of Miami. A 6-foot-5, 185-pound outfielder, Fowler is very athletic and has drawn comparisons to Andre Dawson and Andruw Jones. His plus-plus speed is his best tool, and he also has lots of raw power potential.
"When you have a chance to add those types of tools to your system, you have to do it," Schmidt said. "He’s very athletic and there’s some adjustments that need to be made at the plate. He has a chance to be an impact player and we thought it was worth the risk."
Fowler was a first-team All-American in 2004 after hitting .457-14-37 in 105 at-bats and stealing 23 bases as a senior at Milton High in Alpharetta, Ga. He also was recruited to play college basketball, and his two-sport ability will allow the Rockies to spread Fowler’s bonus over five years.
Miami hoped the signing of Fowler would help open suburban Atlanta area as a new recruiting base for the program as it enters the Atlantic Coast Conference. Despite losing Fowler, the Hurricanes still should have a strong outfield next spring with seniors Brian Barton, Danny Figueroa and Brendan Katin and sophomore John Jay.