Friday, December 23, 2016


This week on Yankee Prospect Watch we continue our countdown of top 20 Yankees prospects following last week's piece on #14 Chance Adams, a personal favorite of mine. Coming in at #13 is a former 18th round pick, Dustin Fowler and #12, the young shortstop, Wilkerman Garcia.

Drafted in the 18th round in 2013, Dustin Fowler took a huge over-slot bonus of $278,000 to give up his commitment to Georgia Southern, a move that could dividends for the Yankees. The left-handed hitting outfielder played both the corners and center early in his career but as his instincts and quickness have improved, he now feels at home in Centerfield.

Fowler spent 2016 in Trenton playing Double-A ball while having his best power numbers and continued his improvement on the base paths. Fowler finished the year with a .281/.311/.458 slash line adding a career high 12 home runs while driving in 88 runs, adding 15 triples (wow!) and 30 doubles. Dustin also swiped 25 bags in 2016, following up his 30 in 2015. His relatively low walk total needs to improve however as he continues to work on his plate discipline.

Photo Credit: Pinstriped Prospects
Fowler, the most improved Yankees prospect over the past couple of years in some people's eyes, is flashing 20-20 potential with his increased power and quickness. For a guy who was drafted in the 18th round just four years ago, he has worked for everything he has earned so far in his short career. 

Fowler is a guy we all need to be aware of and 2017 will be another test in either Trenton and/or Scranton/Wilkes Barre as he attempts to show consistency and continued improvement as he climbs the ranks in the Yankees minor league system. The soon to be 22 year-old is making the most of his long shot opportunity as he works toward his dream of making it to the Big Leagues.

At number 12 in the Yankees system is 18 year-old Wilkerman Garcia. Signed out of Venezuela at 16 years-old in 2014, Garcia made his stateside debut in 2015 and wowed everyone at just 17 years-old. In the Gulf Coast League Garcia slashed .281/.396/.347 over 37 games. That mind you is at the same age most kids are juniors or seniors in high school!

In 2016 though, Garcia has a bit of a rude awakening as he struggled big time in the Appalachian League. Garcia slashed .198/.255/.284 while drawing just 15 walks over 54 games versus his 24 free passes in the Gulf Coast League in 2015. Nevertheless, Garcia is still highly regarded by most people around baseball.

Garcia's plus speed and plus arm strength along with his good hands and feet on defense, highlight some of his great tools and he is still just 18 years-old. The switch hitting shortstop utilizes the whole field at the plate and has shown some ability to control the strike zone.

In Wilkerman's defense, he suffered a shoulder injury early in 2016 and that very well may have contributed to his less than ideal season.

Photo Credit: Pinstriped Prospects
Garcia is still raw but does have some serious upside and was nearly two and half years younger than the average player in the Appalachian League in 2016. Wilkerman is still a handful of years away from the Bronx but 2017 will be a big rebound opportunity for him as he tries to get back on the right track.

Photo: USA Today
Next up on the Yankees Prospect Watch are two newcomers to the organization, #11 RHP Dillon Tate acquired from Texas in the Carlos Beltran deal and cracking the top ten, #10 Albert Abreu, recently acquired from Houston in the Brian McCann deal.

Now we are in the top 10 and we plan on having some awesome prospect stories, along with a couple surprises, for you over the next six weeks or so here at BYB as we continue the prospect countdown and the countdown to spring training.

--Dan Lucia,  
BYB 'Series' Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia

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