- Full name William Dexter Fowler
- Born 03/22/1986 in Atlanta, GA
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- School Milton
- Debut 09/02/2008
Drafted in the 14th round (410th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2004 (signed for $925,000).
View Draft ReportWith a body compared to Andre Dawson's, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound Fowler is unlikely to slip through the early rounds of the draft and attend Miami. He's a premium athlete, long and lean like Dawson with broad shoulders, and he's made enough strides with the bat this spring to jump into the first round. He hit .500 with 10 home runs. An intelligent player, Fowler is an above-average defender with plus-plus speed in center field, gliding to balls like Andruw Jones and showing a strong arm. While he's made progress offensively and shows raw power potential, he lacks consistency in his swing, and some scouts think it will have to be broken down completely. He's a high-risk pick that could pay a high reward to a patient team willing to stick him in short-season ball for a while.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Fowler had a breakthrough season in 2008 after injuries limited him to 164 games the two previous seasons. A Double-A Texas League all-star for Tulsa, he was selected to play in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, played with Team USA, which defeated Japan to claim the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics, and made his big league debut in September. A 2004 draft choice, Fowler didn't debut until the following season, the Rockies signing him in August, after a trade of Larry Walker provided payroll savings that were used for his $925,000 bonus. A projected early draft, teams shied away from Fowler because he had offers to play baseball at Miami, where he was headed before signing with the Rockies, and basketball at Harvard. A high school All-American, he was ranked the 10th best high school position player available in the 2004 draft. He played in summer league programs with Chris Nelson, the Rockies' first-round draft choice in 2004. There are few players with as complete a package of tools as Fowler, from physical ability to his personality. Constantly smiling, he plays center field and runs the bases with a flair that conjures up memories of a young Garry Maddox and Willie Wilson. His feet don't seem to ever leave the ground with his effortless stride. He is a plus runner who gets good breaks on balls defensively and has a plus arm for a center fielder. He continues to make strides offensively and started to show an ability to drive the ball in 2008. Having not begun to switch-hit until he got into pro ball, Fowler is stronger from the right side of the plate, batting .405 in 84 at-bats against lefthanders last season, but has good technique from the left side, even though he does use a split grip. He said it gives him a feeling of bat control, and the organization has taken a hands-off approach to that situation. Fowler has no glaring holes. It's a matter of how quickly he'll make adjustments. Fowler has a sleek, athletic build that figures to steadily get stronger, although he will never be bulky, and with that strength will come run-production power. However, that is still a projection at this point. At each level he has had to adjust to the command of pitchers, and learn not to be in a hurry to chase out of the zone. He has too much speed to give away at-bats and needs to make more contact with two strikes. He has excellent speed, but needs to learn how to use it as an offensive weapon in terms of stealing bases and bunting. Fowler is expected to be a key part of the Rockies' long-term foundation with his ability to play center field in spacious Coors Field. He might hit leadoff but could develop enough power to move lower in the order, perhaps as a No. 3 or No. 5 hitter. Natural progression will have him open this season with Triple-A Colorado Springs, but with his raw abilities, Fowler has the ability to push up the development plan. The quick adjustment he made at Tulsa last year led to the belief that the game clicked and Fowler suddenly moved on to the fast track.
Fowler projected as a possible first-round talent in the 2004 draft, but teams shied away from him because his college options included playing basketball at Harvard or baseball at Miami. The Rockies took a flier in the 14th round, and after they saved $2 million by dealing Larry Walker to the Cardinals that August, they signed Fowler for $925,000. He has played in just 164 games the last two years because of injuries. Fowler is a graceful athlete, particularly in center field, where he has plus range and a slightly above-average arm. He began switch-hitting after signing and now has a technically stronger swing from the left side. He has well-above-average speed, intriguing power potential and a willingness to draw walks. An ankle sprain in 2006 and a broken hand in 2007 have cost Fowler much-needed at-bats. He needs to make more consistent contact, and quieting his swing would be a step in that direction. He still needs to get stronger, which would allow him to drive balls more often. He can make better use of his speed by bunting more. Fowler will move to Double-A, and a strong first half could put him in Triple-A. Colorado's center fielder of the future, he could be ready by mid-2009.
Fowler had offers to play basketball at Harvard and baseball at Miami but elected to pursue baseball full-time when the Rockies gave him a $925,000 bonus in the 14th round. Colorado came up with the money after trading Larry Walker to clear salary. A legitimate five-tool prospect with great makeup, Fowler learned to switch-hit at Rookie-level Casper in 2005. A natural righty, he has made progress with his lefthanded swing and homers from each side of the plate on Opening Day in 2006. He has an athletic build and projects to add strength as he matures. His speed is well-above-average. Fowler evokes former Gold Glover Devon White for his defensive skills in center field, as he seems to glide in the gaps with his long strides. His average arm features good carry and accuracy. Still adapting to switch-hitting, he'll pull off the ball too often and lengthen his swing from the left side. He has stolen bases on pure speed but was caught 23 times last year, and he'll have to improve his awareness and his leads at higher levels. Ticketed for high Class A Modesto in 2007, Fowler could break into the major leagues in 2008 if everything clicks.
A projected second-round pick out of high school, Fowler slipped in the 2004 draft because he had the options of playing basketball at Harvard and baseball at Miami. The Rockies' strategy to take a 14thround flier on him paid off when they freed up money by dealing Larry Walker at the 2004 trade deadline, then landed Fowler with a $925,000 bonus. Because he signed late, he didn't play in a pro game until last year. Compared to Andre Dawson and Andruw Jones for his raw talent and athleticism, Fowler had a solid debut, especially considering he began to switch-hit for the first time. His swing can get lengthy, tying him up at times and leading to strikeouts, but the natural righty still managed to bat .258 from the left side of the plate. Like most young players he has trouble with inside pitches but drives balls on the outer half to all fields. A talented athlete with fluid actions, Fowler still is filling out and figures to get stronger as he matures. He glides in the outfield, and his well above-average speed helps him project as a plus defensive center fielder in the future. His arm is just fringe average. He has a bright future, and the Rockies will try to follow a step-by-step approach knowing that his development will require patience. He'll play in low Class A this year.
Fowler, who played with Chris Nelson in the prestigious East Cobb amateur program, emerged as one of the top high school prospects for the 2004 draft. While he elicited comparisons to the likes of Andre Dawson and Andruw Jones, concerns about his commitment to the University of Miami caused him to plummet on draft day. The Rockies didn't have the money in their budget to sign him until they cleared $9.25 million by trading Larry Walker in August, after which they gave Fowler a $925,000 bonus. He signed too late to make his debut, though he did make a positive first impression with his workouts late in the season when he traveled with the Rookie-level Casper club and again in instructional league. Fowler, who also had the opportunity to play basketball at Harvard, is an impressive athlete with raw skills. He creates outstanding bat speed and his projectable frame gives the promise of a middle-of-the-order center fielder. His swing tends to get long and he moves too much at the plate in an attempt to generate bat speed. Until he refines his approach, his raw power will remain just a show in batting practice. He's smooth in center field, where his plus-plus speed affords him tremendous range. He also has good arm strength and should be a basestealing threat. Fowler could be reunited with Nelson this year in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Fowler came into the season eager to display his talents after an ankle sprain in 2006 and broken hand in 2007 cost him valuable development time. Managers praised him as the TL's most electrifying player, and he won a bronze medal with the U.S. Olympic team and received a September callup to the majors. A cerebral switch-hitter, Fowler had his best offensive season and did a much better job of controlling the strike zone, translating his power potential into doubles and homers. His speed and center-field defense are both well-above average, and he has solid arm strength. "He's a guy that kind of compares to guys like Colby Rasmus and Mitch Maier, guys that can hit, run and definitely play the outfield," Tulsa manager Stu Cole said. "He definitely was one of the most exciting players I've seen come through this league."
Fowler had the best all-around tools in the league outside of Upton's, but he's not as advanced in being able to turn them into production on the diamond. He lost a half-season of needed at-bats when he ran into San Jose outfield's fence in June, breaking the hamate bone in his right hand. A natural righthanded hitter, Fowler started switch-hitting after turning pro. He has plus power potential and speed, but he has yet to become a big home run threat or a successful basestealer (he was caught 11 times in 31 tries this year). He does have good patience at the plate and should improve with more experience. Taller than most center fielders as 6-foot-5, Fowler is a plus defender with the ability to glide to balls in the gap. He has average arm strength.
Fowler announced his presence in the SAL when he homered from both sides of the plate on Opening Day, and his upside rivals that of anyone in the league. He's still raw, but he continues to draw comparisons to all-around talents such as Andre Dawson and Andruw Jones. A natural righthanded hitter, Fowler began switch-hitting in 2005. He batted .296 from both sides of the plate this year and showed more power lefthanded. He needs work from both sides, however, as his swing has a tendency to get long and he has a little bit of an uppercut as a lefty. He also gets too aggressive and is susceptible to offspeed pitches. Fowler's plus-plus speed serves him well in center field and on the basepaths, though he's still honing his basestealing instincts after getting caught 23 times in 66 tries. His arm is fringe average but fine for center.
Fowler played with Chris Nelson, the PL's No. 1 prospect a year ago, on a prominent Georgia summer league team. He might have joined Nelson in 2004's first round if not for a strong commitment to the University of Miami. Fowler went in the 14th round and signed late in the summer for $925,000. Fowler is slightly awkward now because his lean frame has yet to fill out, but he's immensely promising and projectable. A natural righthanded hitter, he began switch-hitting this season. He has plus raw power, though he swings and misses frequently. He's an above-average runner with a feel for reading balls off the bat in center field. His arm is accurate and slightly above average as well. Fowler complements his entire package with off-the-charts makeup. "I think it's going to happen, even though it's not reflected in the stats," Casper manager P.J. Carey said. "He's a five-tool player, one of the premier prospects in the league."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Colorado Rockies in 2009
- Rated Best Athlete in the Colorado Rockies in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Texas League in 2008
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Texas League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Colorado Rockies in 2008
- Rated Best Athlete in the Colorado Rockies in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the California League in 2007
- Rated Best Athlete in the Colorado Rockies in 2007
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the South Atlantic League in 2006
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the Colorado Rockies in 2006