There was interesting news in recent weeks when multiple organizations updated their prospect listings, and in the process moved shortstop Anthony Volpe past Jasson Dominguez as the Yankees’ top prospect. Volpe is having one of the best seasons of any minor leaguer, but ranking him ahead of Dominguez would have been nearly unthinkable heading into the season. After struggling out of the gate during his debut season, Volpe turned in on late before coming down with an illness that cost him the end of the 2019 season. Jasson Dominguez has gone through similar struggles in the early part of this season, but now seems to be turning it on as the season hits its last month.
The narrative on Anthony Volpe was that the Yankees reached for him by selecting him 30th overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. That narrative only received a boost as Volpe hit a paltry .125/.275/.232 over his first 16 professional games. In a short season league, such as the Appalachian League that Volpe started his career in, one extended slump can ruin a players numbers for the season. It was too easy for everyone to ignore that Volpe hit .292/.413/.462 over the last 18 games of his season when his overall average only rose to .215.
Entering 2021, the expectations around Jasson Dominguez could not have been much farther from those of Anthony Volpe. Yankees fans had been hearing about his elite talents since early 2019 when the then-16-year-old became a household name approaching the July 2nd international free agent period. His tools were compared to all-time greats and the Yankees dished out a bonus worthy of his hype. The loss of the 2020 minor league season only pushed the expectations higher for Dominguez as fans eagerly awaited his professional debut.
Having those unreachable expectations in place, many fans were surprised when Dominguez was not assigned to the Low-A Tampa Tarpons to start the season. Instead, he began his year in extended spring training with a video being released here and there — including live at-bats against Luis Severino at one point.
Severino facing Jasson Dominguez in live BP pic.twitter.com/CgQrkbr4hA— Erik Boland (@eboland11) May 13, 2021
The early results were not as electric as many fans would have hoped for. Pitchers walked Dominguez 22.2 percent of the time during his seven games in the Florida Complex League. His plate discipline was a good sign, but he hit just .200 with no extra base hits in his 27 plate appearances at the complex league level. The Yankees had seen enough skills and benchmarks in his approach at the plate to promote Dominguez to the next level and he moved up to Low-A Tampa.
While some early results were promising, fans quickly began to ask if they “should be worried” about Dominguez after he hit just .228/.318/.333 in his first 31 games at the Low-A level. As prospects with great tools and potential often do, Dominguez has seemingly adjusted to play at the higher level and is producing steady results. Entering play on Wednesday night, Dominguez has a 10-game hitting streak with a 143 wRC+ over that time. Four of his 11 extra-base hits on the season have come during the stretch, including two of his four home runs.
Dominguez is unlikely to pull his overall numbers up to where many fans would have expected them to be with just three weeks remaining in the season. That’s not cause for worry though — the final numbers for a season are often a terrible indicator of a prospect’s progress during the season. Yankees prospects before him such as Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe displayed the traits that allowed them to adjust in season and produce at a high level. It is a trait that should continue to treat him well on his rise through the system.
Can Jasson Dominguez channel his mid-season progress into a breakout campaign in 2022? Time will tell, but he has worked through a slump and struggles at a level where he is almost two years younger than the average hitter and started to consistently produce. His end of season numbers will likely not jump off the page, just like Volpe’s at the end of 2019, but progress is being made on his journey through the Yankees’ system.