Fowler Leads Next Wave For Yankees
NEW YORK—While Aaron Judge remains the system’s top outfield prospect because of his big-time righthanded power, a few other outfielders are working their way up the ladder.
Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams got a taste of the big leagues in 2015 before injuries limited their time.
Behind those two are Ben Gamel at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Jake Cave and Dustin Fowler at Double-A Trenton. All three bat lefthanded and, according to one talent evaluator, have similar tool sets.
While spring training numbers may be disregarded for veteran players readying for the season, prospect performance often provides clues. Fowler went 7-for-22 (.318) with just two strikeouts in Grapefruit League action.
"He did well in major league camp,” vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring said of Fowler, 21. "There is a lot of upside.”
The Yankees selected Fowler from West Laurens High in Caldwell, Ga., in 2013, signing the 18th-round pick for $278,000.
Fowler’s loud spring performance followed on the heels of a breakout 2015 season in which he climbed from low Class A Charleston to high Class A Tampa. He hit .298/.334/.394 with 31 extra-base hits and 30 steals in 123 games at the two levels.
He finished the 2015 season on a roll by hitting .279 with two homers in 16 games in the Arizona Fall League. He then ranked as the Yankees’ No. 10 prospect.
"Obviously, he put himself on the map last year,” Naehring said. "Not only with the Yankees—but the industry. He is a young prospect competing at Double-A, and that is a big plus.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Fowler hit .260/.308/.342 through his first 18 games at Trenton this season, making all his appearances in center field.
• Third baseman Sandy Acevedo, an 18-year-old who signed last July, was killed in an automobile accident on April 23 in his native Dominican Republic. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Acevedo was scheduled to make his pro debut this summer.
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• Tampa righthander James Kaprielian, a first-round pick in 2015 from UCLA, went on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. He made short work of Florida State League competition through three starts, going 2-1, 1.50 while striking out 22 and walking three in 18 innings.