If you know me, you know I love a guy with speed. Meet Josh Stowers! I like to call him Brett Gardner light. Part of the Sonny Gray trade, the Yankees got Shed Long for Gray from the Reds and then flipped Long to the Mariners for Stowers. While the Yankees would have had to add Long to the 40-man roster, they didn’t have to add Stowers.
The 6-foot-1, right-handed-hitting Stowers played collegiately at Louisville, where he hit .407 in the NCAA tournament as a sophomore before boosting his draft stock playing for the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League in 2017. In 2018 as a junior for the Cardinals, he hit .336 with an OPS of 1.036 and 36 steals while earning All-America third-team honors. He was also named to the All-ACC Academic team in 2017 and 2018.
Seattle’s second-round pick (54th overall) in 2018, the then 21-year-old Stowers hit .260 with a .790 OPS and 20 stolen bases in the Low-A Northwest League with the Everett Aquasox in 2018. He then spent 2019 with the Charleston RiverDogs, slashing .273/.386/.400 with seven home runs, 40 RBI, and 35 stolen bases getting caught stealing 16 times over 105 games. In 2018, he walked 15.2% of the time and struck out 23.4% of the time. That was good for a .380 on base percentage. He turned 33.6% of his balls in play into hits which is close to sustainable for a guy with his speed. His isolated power was nice for a 21-year-old (.150) however he hit just 5 home runs in only 244 plate appearances. If you can translate this kind of performance to the major leagues as a center fielder it’s fantastic. His wOBA was .366 which would have placed him 5th among qualifying center fielders in 2018 (just ahead of Aaron Hicks at .360).
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) January 19, 2020
Stowers is always going to give you a solid at-bats every time it’s his turn to swing. He’s very selective at the plate and doesn’t chase a lot of pitches out of the zone. In the 2019 Arizona Fall League in 20 games (77 PA) he went 8-for-61, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 13 BB, 27 K, 4-for-7 SB. Stowers clearly didn’t hit, either for power or average, yet he maintained his walk rate at 16.9 percent. The 2018 draft pick missed time at mid-season in 2019, yet he still played in 105 games, so there’s a chance he was just tired from the long year as happens to plenty of AFL players. Adding power will be the last piece to the puzzle to the all-around talents skill set for Stowers. Stowers is a plus runner underway and his speed plays well both in the outfield and on the bases, where he shows good feel and reads while being able to play any outfield position.
I expect him to start the 2021 season with either Low-A Tampa Tarpons or Double-A Somerset Patriots. A 2023 big league debut from Stowers is realistic and I expect for fans to love him for his hustle and all around game. I was expecting a 2022 debut before COVID wiped out the 2020 MILB season. He will most likely be a 4th outfielder and pinch runner with a chance at the occasional start. The Yankees outfield depth options in the near and long term future truly hurt his chances at making a real impact. If he were to get a full time spot I expect 50 plus steals out of him with a .260ish average and decent pop 15-20 homers a year.
Where will Stowers end up on my new 2021 Yankees Top 50 prospects? Stay tuned as that column will be out soon enough in January.