Arguably the prospect who needs the least amount of introduction, Jasson Dominguez has captivated Yankees fans since before the team officially inked him to a $5.1 million contract on July 2, 2019. After spending the next two years as the world’s most famous professional baseball player who never, you know, actually played a single game of professional baseball, the Martian finally landed, making his minor league debut last June in his age-18 season.
Although he did not quite live up to the hype, Dominguez’s elite tools and young age lands him at No. 2 in our top prospect list.
2021 Minor league stats (Florida Coast League, Low-A Tampa): 56 G, .252/.353/.379, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 9 SB
2022 Expected minor league level: Low-A Tampa/High-A Hudson Valley
Major league ETA: 2024
Now that he’s finally gotten on the field, Dominguez’s stock has fallen quite a bit. To a large extent, this is both unsurprising and unfair — unsurprising, because Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout are insanely difficult standards to be held up to, and unfair because no one should really be held to that standard at the age of 16.
That said, his performance in 2021 has raised some legitimate questions. He struggled to put the bat on the ball, posting a 33.1-percent strikeout rate as a member of the Tampa Tarpons; when he did, he hit ground balls at an alarming rate (50.4 GB%). Dominguez particularly had difficulty from the right side of the plate, slashing just .167/.292/.241 against southpaws; for comparison, his slash line against righties was a robust .283/.375/.428.
Because of these flaws — and reports that Dominguez added “30-plus pounds in the last 24 months, not all of which is muscle” — he has fallen rather far in the prospect rankings. Baseball America had dropped him from 33rd overall to 87th, FanGraphs from 51st to 73rd, and Baseball Prospectus didn’t include him at all in their Top 101 after ranking him 59th in 2021.
When you ignore the hype surrounding Dominguez and the inevitable letdown from that hype 2021 brought, however, there are still a lot to like. He remains one of the toolsiest prospects in baseball, with 60-grade raw power and a cannon for an arm. Additionally — and in my opinion, more importantly — he did not look completely lost when with Tampa, despite the fact that he was more than three years younger than the average player at Low-A last season. In fact, he was a tick above average at the plate (his wRC+ in Low-A was 105). As a reminder, it’s quite unusual for an 18-year-old to see regular playing time in full-season ball.
Yankees director of player development Kevin Reese still sees a world of potential in the teenager, as relayed by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch a few weeks ago:
“On all of our measurables, he’s right up there with some of the elites in the Major Leagues — max exit velo, his running speed, overall power for his body type,” Reese said. “It’s really, really good. So I have no concerns with how that plays out over time.”
At this point in time, it’s hard to predict what Dominguez’s career is going to look like. Yankees fans certainly daydream of him lighting up the minor leagues and making his debut prior to his 20th birthday, like Bryce Harper and Juan Soto, although even if he does end up becoming a superstar, his inability to practice stateside — let alone play in Rookie ball — in 2020 due to the pandemic has made a 2022 or 2023 call-up incredibly unlikely.
Dominguez is equally likely to bust completely — his potential certainly is elite, with 50-grade hit potential and 60-grade power potential, but his current skills leave much to be desired (20-grade current hit and power tools). Chances are, he’ll land somewhere in the middle, but even there, a range of outcomes await. Currently he’s a center fielder, but his size and speed lead many scouts to believe his future is in the corners, and his throwing arm suggests that he has the potential to be a top defender in right.
All of this is to say, Jasson Dominguez is a 19-year-old kid with a profile that compares favorably with prospects selected in the first third of the first round of the amateur draft. For an organization that has not selected below 13th since they selected Derek Jeter with the sixth overall pick in 1992, that makes him a valuable member of the Yankees farm system.