I was trying to wait it out, trying to stay off the bandwagon, and trying to make sure I didn’t look silly when the young kid starting playing like a young kid again.
But after last night, things have changed.
I can’t hide it anymore.
I’m succumbing to Dexter Fowler mania. Fowler is the Colorado Rockies center fielder of the future and, some might say, the next great star of the team.
Here is a kid who made the jump directly from Double A, who was highly touted from spring training, but who had yet to prove a thing in the major leagues.
Many thought he wouldn’t be able to hack it on the major league squad or that he wouldn’t get enough playing time to make his promotion worth it.
Perhaps Fowler would start slow, be sent down, and never recover—always to be known as a top prospect that never panned out.
But none of that happened.
Instead, Fowler stole the starting center field job from Ryan Spilborghs (moving the 29-year-old to left) and refused to give it back.
Now, 16 games into the season, Fowler has started all but three games for the Rockies and has had playing time in all but one.
As of Monday, Fowler has been one of the most consistent offensive forces in the Rockies’ lineup, posting a .302 AVG, a .393 OBP, and nine stolen bases through his first 16 games of the 2009 season.
This, or course, is not to mention Fowler’s two home runs and four doubles, proving he is more than strictly a contact hitter with speed.
More importantly, on a team in which consistency has been of major concern, Fowler has yet to go two games in a row without a hit, and has only played in three games all season in which he has failed to reach base.
In fact, the team is 5-3 when Fowler scores a run (a striking record when pitted against the team’s dismal 7-11 record), and 4-2 when he drives one in.
Better yet, Fowler has played a stellar center field using his speed and instincts to run down balls that otherwise may have dropped for hits.
But none of this gets the blood pumping quite like Fowler’s game on Monday night.
The center fielder reached base four times in the 12-7 rout of the San Diego Padres. Fowler scored three runs and stole (count them) five bases on Padres’ catcher Nick Hundley.
Taking advantage of Chris Young’s slow delivery, Fowler ran on just about everything Monday night and proved, once and for all, that he can be the spark that this Rockies lineup so desperately needs.
Going into the season, people knew that Fowler had all the potential in the world, but few believed he could make the leap to the big leagues and perform at such a high level as quickly as he has.
With the Colorado Rockies struggling out of the gate, the team has needed someone to step in and provide some much needed energy. Perhaps Fowler is just the man for the job—someone who can be a spark plug for the rest of the team to rally around and fulfill the same role Troy Tulowitzki did two years ago.
Who knows...maybe this Rockies phenom can take the team one step further than the last one did.