Jim Callis

Yanks' Fowler delivers in consecutive AFL games

Day after homering, club's No. 18 prospect scores lone run in Surprise win

Yanks' Fowler delivers in consecutive AFL games

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the first time this Arizona Fall League season, Dustin Fowler got to play in consecutive games. And for the second straight day, he delivered for the Surprise Saguaros.

On Wednesday, the Yankees center fielder slammed a three-run homer in the seventh inning and singled during a six-run rally in the ninth that produced a 9-8 victory over the Glendale Desert Dogs. Fowler, the Yankees' No. 18 prospect, encored Thursday by doubling and scoring the game's lone run as the Saguaros beat the Desert Dogs again.

As a taxi-squad player, Fowler is usually active only on Wednesdays. But with Brett Phillips (Brewers) leaving to play in the Premier 12 tournament, Bubba Starling (Royals) taking a few days off to attend a wedding and other players with minor injuries, Surprise was left shorthanded in the outfield.

"It feels great to finally play on a Thursday and get some more at-bats," Fowler said. "It's nice to finally get into a rhythm."

Fowler led off the sixth inning with a double inside the first-base line and came around to score on a single by second baseman Ramon Torres (Royals). After his 1-for-4 day, Fowler is now batting .300/.323/.433 with five RBIs and five steals in seven AFL games.

Fowler said he has tried to stay sharp by making the most of his off-days. He tries to focus more intently than ever during batting practice, shags fly balls as if he's in game situations and does a lot of sprint work.

"I've been working on staying on my backside and getting more power behind the ball," Fowler said. "I want to produce more doubles, triples and homers. I'm trying to see more pitches at the plate and get an idea of becoming a better hitter. I've also been working on stealing bases."

An 18th-round pick in 2013 out of West Laurens High in Dexter, Ga., Fowler planned on attending Georgia Southern until the Yankees gave him an above-slot $278,000 bonus. He has some of the best all-around tools in New York's system, highlighted by his plus speed and center-field defense.

Fowler batted .298/.334/.394 with five homers and 30 steals in 123 games at two Class A stops in 2015. He has the raw power to produce 15 or more homers per season, and at age 20 he has plenty of time to develop.

Thursday's game was just the second 1-0 contest in three weeks of AFL play. The Saguaros improved to 12-8 with the win and stretched their Western Division lead to three games over the Desert Dogs and Peoria Javelinas (both 8-10).

Both starting pitchers were sharp. Surprise's Adrian Houser (Brewers) hit 97 mph while working five scoreless innings, though he didn't strike out a single batter. Glendale's Yacksel Rios (Phillies) was even sharper, maxing out at 94 mph while striking out four during four one-hit frames.

Desert Dogs center fielder Adam Engel (White Sox) was the only player on either club with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 to raise his AFL batting average to .378.

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.