Dustin Fowler has never met Sonny Gray, but now two of the most important moments of his already mercurial career will be forever tied to the Yankees pitcher.
In his first career start for the Athletics, Fowler found himself in the lineup Friday against the Yankees, his former team that traded him at the deadline last season for Sonny Gray. As if that wasn’t enough for Fowler on Friday, there was also the matter of the Yankees starting pitcher: Sonny Gray.
Facing the pitcher that caused him to be shipped to Oakland, Fowler notched his first MLB hit off Gray with a low line drive into right field. Given what the 23-year-old Fowler has gone through, the hit that was a long time coming.
What Fowler has gone through for his first MLB hit
It’s a good thing Fowler was able to make it back to the majors, otherwise his career would be summed up with one name: Moonlight Graham.
Then a well-regarded Yankees prospect, Fowler made his MLB debut against the White Sox in June of last season. Fowler had been on the field for less than one inning when he ran into the right field wall and had to be carted off the field. Fowler was later diagnosed with an open rupture of his right patellar tendon, knocking him out for the season and very possibly more.
The injury was so bad that Fowler sued the White Sox for not taking measures to secure an unpadded electrical box that led to supposedly permanent damage to his leg. Given that Fowler did not even notch a plate appearance in his debut with the Yankees, he was very close to living the story of Moonlight Graham, whose legacy was immortalized in the movie “Field of Dreams.”
Dustin Fowler’s scouting report
An 18th round pick out of high school in the 2013 draft, Fowler entered the 2018 season ranked as a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America and the No. 4 prospect in a solid A’s system. He’s a center field prospect that seems to have the range to stick there, though he also has experience in the corner outfield spots.
In 132 plate appearances with Triple-A Nashville this season, Fowler has registered a .310/.333/.484 line with 3 homers and 8 steals. His combination of hitting and speed in both center and on the basepaths means he could be the Athletics’ center fielder of the future, assuming he can stay healthy.
Why did the Yankees trade Dustin Fowler?
Thanks to strong outfield depth in both the majors and minors and a strong need for a quality starting pitcher, the Yankees opted to trade the still-injured Fowler to the Athletics, along with pitching prospect James Kaprielian and shortstop Jorge Mateo, for Gray.
The move allowed the Yankees to trade from positions of strength to bolster a club contending for the playoffs. The Yankees would later make it to the ALCS, but Fowler and the other prospects have the potential to make New York regret its move.
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