Both Dustin Fowler and Clint Frazier have been highly touted prospects — and the New York Yankees may be forced to choose only one of them.
The New York Yankees have a great problem on their hands.
Clint Frazier isn’t home grown but is considered one of the brightest of the Baby Bombers. He was the crown jewel of the Andrew Miller blockbuster trade from last year’s deadline and has already won over the Bronx with his exuberant personality and hair to match. He’s also considered the second overall prospect in the system, per MLB Pipeline.
At the same time, Dustin Fowler — who was drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round in 2013 — has quietly climbed the depth chart since joining the organization. He isn’t as flashy as Frazier but boasts a skill-set the team loves, as he displays a quiet confidence once he steps foot on the field. His efforts have been rewarded, as many consider Fowler a top-10 youngster in a star-studded farm system.
Wherein lies the problem is the Bronx. As Frazier and Fowler showcase their talents in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, every outfielder on the 25-man roster has done their part in leading the Yankees to an AL East-best 24-13 record.
Brett Gardner has been on fire in May (.386/.446/.754) while Jacoby Ellsbury has found comfort in a secondary role. Aaron Judge and his awe-inspiring power have him resembling a Rookie of the Year candidate while it could be argued that Aaron Hicks has been the team’s best overall player.
Sure, Gardner could be a trade candidate this summer but Judge isn’t going anywhere, Hicks is playing like he doesn’t want to go anywhere, and Ellsbury still has four years and over $84 million left on his contract.
Too many players, not enough spots — and that could make the front office decide between Frazier and Fowler.
From rankings alone, Frazier will be the favorite to remain in pinstripes. There is a lot to like about the 22-year-old — not only is his bat speed and raw power two of his greatest assets but he naturally possesses all five tools. He’s also someone who has experience in all three outfield positions and is a consistent threat when on base. Most importantly, things are starting to look up this month, as he entered Thursday’s game hitting .286 with two home runs, 11 RBI and a .855 OPS in May. He added another long ball, two doubles and two RBI when the game concluded.
But since joining the Yankees, Frazier has experienced as many downs as he has ups.
In 60 career games with the RailRiders, he’s slashing just .239/.310/.426 and has yet to showcase the power that he’s been noted for. Frazier also ran into some off-field incidents — albeit unwarranted — as he was told to cut his hair due to it being a “distraction” while also being falsely accused of asking team officials to unretire Mickey Mantle‘s number seven.
Fowler, meanwhile, continues to impress after every game he plays.
After standing out for the Trenton Thunder last season, the Georgia native made a name for himself to fans during Spring Training. Fowler has carried that momentum into the regular season, as it could be argued that he’s the top player in Scranton.
Through 35 games, he’s done a little bit of everything. He’s hit for average (.298), has gotten on base at a high clip (.346) and has displayed power, too (.546 SLG, five home runs, 21 RBI). Fowler, who’s also 22, has also used his legs to his advantage, as evidenced by his eight doubles, seven triples (an International League best), five stolen bases and 20 runs scored. Most importantly, he’s blossomed into a legitimate center fielder, using his vision, decision making and accuracy to his advantage.
If the Yankees stay on this torrid pace, they could reverse course from last season and turn into big time buyers, especially for pitching. Although Hal Steinbrenner claims he won’t trade prospects, you have to give to get.
Names like Jose Quintana and Gerrit Cole could turn the organization into legitimate World Series contenders, which would be one of the fastest turnarounds in the history of rebuilds. They would also cost a prospect haul that would rival what the Chicago White Sox received for Chris Sale.
Frazier or Fowler could be the key to any transaction. But with both excelling in Triple-A, it has to be repeated — the Yankees have a great problem on their hands.