The Yankees have high hopes for uber-prospect Jasson Dominguez. They wouldn’t have given him $5 million if that wasn’t the case, or held onto him during trade negotiations over the past few years. They want him to be part of their future.
Part of the whole process is, of course, having the required patience when the player inevitably slumps. Even the best hitters currently in the bigs have had to go through some adversity and cold streaks, so why wouldn’t Dominguez?
The Martian’s current stat line indicates that he has had a good year repeating Low-A. In 33 games and 149 plate appearances, he is hitting .261/.315/.442 with 4 home runs, 24 runs, 20 RBI, 4 stolen bases, a .757 OPS and a 118 wRC+ (average is 100). He can definitely improve his plate discipline — 6.7-percent walk rate against a 33.6-percent strikeout rate — but he is inflicting more damage and having a productive season overall.
Dominguez has been good in 2022, but that wasn’t always the case. From April 8 to April 23, he slashed a putrid .204/.218/.278 with no homers, four doubles, a .496 OPS and a 40 wRC+ in 55 plate appearances. He had a 1.8 percent walk rate and a 36.4 percent strikeout rate. In other words, he looked clueless, which is odd because he held his own at the same level last year with a .744 OPS and a 105 wRC+.
However, since April 24th, he’s begun to see things more clearly. In 94 plate appearances since that date to this point, the Martian has hit .298/.372/.548 with four home runs, seven doubles, a triple, 20 runs scored, 16 RBI, a .920 OPS, and a 163 wRC+. His walk rate increased to 9.6 percent and his strikeout rate decreased to 31.9 percent.
One can tell that Dominguez is truly special by the way he punishes the ball. His wrists are extremely quick and powerful, and he shows big-league exit velocities already:
There are still things to improve. In addition to Dominguez’s strikeout problem (one that could really become an issue in the upper minors), he has to do a better job lifting the ball if he wants to tap into his power potential. For the season, he has a 57.5-percent groundball rate and has hit 3.33 grounders for every fly ball. That is not going to cut it. Additionally, he has been way better as a left-handed hitter than as a righty. Something to work on.
If you evaluated him based on his awful start of the season, you might think Dominguez is overmatched in Low-A. If you judge him for his excellent May performance (.299/.382/.567), you might be tempted to say he needs a new challenge and that he mastered the level already. Neither of those statements are true … yet.
Dominguez is where he needs to be right now: he found some adversity to begin the season, made adjustments, and has now settled in and found a groove. Now, he needs to keep mashing and try to bring down that strikeout rate, and then, he could find himself in High-A at some point this year.
Prospect development isn’t linear. That’s why he didn’t mash in Low-A to begin the year after holding his own there last season, and that’s why we don’t know whether or not he definitely unlocked something and will keep advancing through the minors. That’s the fun part of having a top prospect. Watching him develop, with all the good and the bad, is part of the ride and the intrigue.
Strikeouts (and groundballs) are still a problem, but Jasson Dominguez seems to have turned a corner this month. He had three extra-base hits in the last two games and appears to be finding his power stroke. He is now a comfortably above-average hitter in Low-A as a 19-year-old, considerably younger than most of his peers. For all his early-season struggles, he is still a special prospect in many ways. Embrace him and enjoy the ride.