One of my default heuristics is to not care about a prospect until he hits Double-A. Other people are much better at that kind of coverage than I am — Hi, Dan Kelly — and the error bars on any kind of projection for that player are just too wide. The jump to Double-A is generally considered the hardest in baseball; if a player can continue to impress at that level, I start paying attention.
Of course every now and then, a prospect comes along who challenges my mental status quo, and Jasson Dominguez has begun to do that. You all know Dominguez’s story, and you’re likely even more hyped for him than I am. I mean, have you seen this dude?
Dominguez is just 17, approximately 5’10” and 190 lbs. (allegedly), and the Yankees’ number one prospect. Oh, and he’s never played baseball in the United States. It’s tough to get a handle on just what this kid is, or is going to be — folks in the Yankees’ system shower him with praise and professional evaluators obviously love the guy. He’s not even a legal adult and could be set at linebacker for one of the lower-ranked SEC schools.
Yet Dominguez is still a long, long way from the majors. MLB.com has him as the team’s top prospect, but not coming to the majors until 2024. He lost what would likely have been his first full season of ball in the States due to COVID-19. If there’s a real minor league season, Dominguez would likely spend the bulk of 2021 with the Gulf Coast League and Class-A Tampa. Expecting him to even reach Double-A before 2022 is pretty aggressive.
All of this is to say that we just don’t know a lot about Dominguez outside of his raw tools, which are considerable. Maybe once he plays against professional baseball players, he continues to shine, but maybe he doesn’t. Losing the 2020 minor league season just delays the amount of information we have on what he’ll become.
I’m writing about this largely because, as we should have seen coming, the Tampa Bay Rays are rumored to be shopping Blake Snell, one of the best pitchers in baseball under control for three more seasons. The kind of piece you would need to give up for a pitcher like Snell, is a prospect like Dominguez.
I am not saying that the Yankees should trade Jasson Dominguez for Blake Snell. I am saying that we should collectively remember the discount rate applied to wins in 2025 vs. wins in 2021. It’s entirely possible that Dominguez never makes the majors at all, or maybe he ends up as a player like Gary Sánchez — loaded with potential but forever struggling to put everything together. Either way, his hypothetical 2025 wins need to be balanced against whatever the expected wins a potential trade would net immediately.
In fact, I’m not sure I would trade Dominguez for anyone in baseball just yet because the information isn’t available. Hitting home runs at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic is one thing; hitting them against college-coached, MLB-drafted arms is another. We just don’t know anything about what this kid will turn into.
However, this also means being honest about what he is now: a teenager playing in another country against competition below his caliber. Jasson Dominguez is dripping with talent and potential, but we’re a long way from seeing that potential converted into real wins. Maybe he’s Juan Soto 2.0, maybe he’s Kevin Maitán, logging a .636 OPS since coming to the MiLB system. We have to wait and see, and while hype is fun, it always has to be discounted.