Dexter Fowler: Reaching Potential

I like Dexter Fowler, have since he was a prospect coming up through the Rockies’ system. I like his athleticism, his speed, his good plate discipline. However, his first two big league seasons have been a bit of a disappointment. Now he enters year three. He should play everyday and he has the potential to help fantasy teams as a low-end outfielder on draft day.
 

It doesn’t always come together right away for young players, no matter how highly touted of a prospect they were (see: Wieters, Matt and Beckham, Gordon). However, that shouldn’t deter our hopes that eventually they will put things together at the big league level.

In his first two major league seasons, Fowler has progressed or maintained above average numbers in the following categories…
  • Lowered his strikout rate from about 27 percent to about 24 percent, which is still a bit high for his skill set, but headed in the right direction.
  • Maintained an above average walk rate.
  • Raised his contact rate by about three percent while maintaining a chase rate that was well under the league average.
  • Held a very good 21 percent or better line drive rate both seasons, while hitting more ground balls than fly balls.
  • Had the 20th lowest infield fly-ball rate in baseball in 2010.
  • Made small improvements in ISO and SLG, which could lead to 10-15 home run pop down the road.

My biggest concern with projecting Fowler’s value is the regression in stolen base success rate, which went from 73 percent in 2009 to 62 percent last season. He certainly has the potential for 30-plus stolen bases in 2011, but he’ll need to improve his success rate to do so.

2010 was also a weird year for Fowler. He started out ice cold, especially from the left side, and was demoted to triple-A, a level which the Rockies organization had him skip on his way to the big leagues. Once he returned to the big club, he hit much better from the left side, but then struggled from the right side. Still, his second half of 2010 was much improved. Fowler hit .287/.392/.529 in July, .275/.347/.451 in August and .298/.350/.430 in September.

Dexter Fowler is the type of player that should figure things out before too long. 2011 could very well be that year. The good thing is that it will cost you very little, if anything on draft day. His current ADP at Mock Draft Central is 239 and he has gone undrafted in some mocks. More than likely, Fowler will end up as either a fourth outfielder or bench player on most teams. The risk is minimal. The reward could be .285/.360/.420 with 10-plus homers, 90-plus runs scored, decent RBI and 30-plus stolen bases.