In what was supposed to be a day full of butterflies and promise turned into the total opposite for New York Yankees prospect Dustin Fowler.
There is no sugarcoating it. What happened to one of the most promising prospects in the New York Yankees organization on Thursday night was completely mortifying.
Dustin Fowler, who’s the eighth-best prospect down on the what is considered by many to be one of the best farm systems, made the trip to Chicago from Syracuse for his major-league debut after putting together an incredible stint in Triple-A. One that saw him rank third in hits (87), second in slugging percentage (.542), second in extra-base hits (40), third in doubles (19), first in triples (8), total bases and fourth in runs scored (49) among International League hitters.
The 22-year-old was ready.
However, after sitting through what was just under a three-hour rain delay and watching his teammates hit in the top of the first, Fowler sprinted out to right field — a position he has played in just 47 games across five minor league seasons — knowing his sixth spot in the lineup was soon approaching.
Just one out before the time to run off the field and get ready came, what was supposed to be a day full of joy, excitement, butterflies and accomplishment turned into something out of a Freddy Krueger nightmare.
The speedy outfielder raced toward right field wall in foul territory to try to catch a foul ball off the bat of White Sox All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu. The ball bounced into the seats as Fowler collided with the short wall. As he slammed it with all the momentum he carried, his right knee slammed into it as he almost fell into the first row.
Then, Fowler was down. Trainer Steve Donohue checked on him. His teammates surrounded him. Manager Joe Girardi was devastated with his hands holding his face. MVP candidate Aaron Judge looked sick to his stomach watching from the dugout. It was crushing, and as he was being carted off the field to an ovation, there was nothing to cheer about.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) June 30, 2017
Dustin Fowler suffered an open rupture of the right patella tendon in his right knee. The Yankees’ 18th round pick of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft from West Laurens HS underwent surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago soon after in an operation that surely ended his rookie stint.
“I was in tears,” an emotional Girardi said following the 4-3 loss. “I know what it takes to get here and how hard he’s worked. What’s supposed to be a really exciting day for him turns into a really bad day. It doesn’t seem fair that that’s what happened.”
Fowler did, however, join the likes of his fellow teammates Judge, Tyler Austin and Miguel Andujar in making history in their Major League debuts. The youngster did not get to bat in his Major League debut marking the first time in exactly 112 years since Moonlight Graham did as well on June 29, 1905.
This time, though, his history-making clearly didn’t help the team. In fact, it now leaves them with some glaring question marks.
Will the Yankees turn to Clint Frazier? The criticized top prospect who may not have the maturity for the Bronx lights? Will Andujar get back on the Scranton Shuttle? What about Jake Cave? Do they already regret designating Mason Williams for assignment?
Regardless of the decisions that now have to be made, this wasn’t supposed to be how Dustin Fowler’s career started. Scouts rave about his makeup. He is more ready than top outfield prospect Clint Frazier. MLB Pipeline says he could become a quality center fielder in the bigs shortly. Out of all the injuries the Yankees’ have faced in the month of June, this stings the worst and you can’t help but feel bad for Fowler who, when you simply look at the play, was busting his butt in what was his first impression on the often-cruel game of baseball.