Colorado Rockies and Dexter Fowler Outrun Chris Young and Padres

David MartinAnalyst IApril 28, 2009

TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Dexter Fowler of the Colorado Rockies poses for a portrait during photo day at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona on February 24, 2008.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Dexter Fowler was invited to Major League Spring Training as a courtesy. It was a way to get him some time on the big league field and help him see what he would be up against the next season.

The Rockies were extremely deep in the outfield and Fowler figured he needed another year of seasoning in the minor leagues.

Besides his cup of coffee in the big leagues last September, Fowler had never played above Double A.

Fowler had other plans.

After starting the spring striking out 10 times in his first 21 at bats, Fowler worked with Don Baylor and made a few tweaks with his hands.

At that point the whole picture changed.

The Rockies, after losing Willy Taveras, were in desperate need of speed in the offense.

They were figuring to have outfielder Ryan Spilbourghs hitting in the lead off spot. Spilbourghs is not necessarily a lead off type.

He is more of a doubles hitter with decent speed, but nothing excellent.

Fowler worked hard everyday and began to find his groove in spring.

As Opening Day kept creeping closer, Fowler had yet to be moved to Minor League camp.

Finally, four days before the season began, manager Clint Hurdle confirmed that Fowler would be on the Major League roster.

In the first month, Fowler has done nothing short of making Hurdle look like a genius for his decision.

Tonight, as Colorado faced Chris Young and the Padres, Fowler made a huge impression.

He began the game with a single off of the 6'10" pitcher. He proceeded to steal second base, and then third base. Fowler then scored the first run of the game when Todd Helton drove him in for the Rox first of 12 runs in the 12-7 win.

In the third inning, Fowler reached base via a walk—one of his eight walks on the year.

Once again Fowler stole second, and then third.

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Fowler, who ended the day with five stolen bases and could have had more had Glendon Rusch not been on base in front of him, is bringing a dynamic to the field for Colorado that no one else is able to.

With pitchers clearly being flustered by Fowler's speed when he is on base, the hitters behind him are seeing more fastballs than they would have otherwise, which has created better opportunities to swing the bat.

Not only does Fowler bring speed to the base paths, he is also bringing it to the massive expanse of land that is Coors Field.

On Saturday, in Matt Daley's Major League Debut, Russell Martin of the Dodgers stroked a pitch to the right center gap.

Off of the bat it looked to be an easy triple.

Instead, Fowler snagged the ball before running into the wall. A catch that Daley credited with calming him down and making it easier to get the next two outs.

Fowler has made a habit of collecting catches that most center fielders would envy. Especially coming in on balls, Fowler has shown an incredible ability to get to the ball before it reaches the ground.

The Rockies are now 7-11, nothing to be thrilled about.

However, if Fowler continues to grow and shows the ability to get on base and steal bases, Colorado may be able to crawl back into the race.


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