One might be wondering how Jasson Domínguez could get an A in our report cards with just eight games at the MLB level. Well, things happened before that — a lot of things.
The 20-year-old known as “The Martian” struggled to open the season in Somerset, but the not-so-subtle-secret with uber-talented prospects is that you have to exercise patience. Prospect development is not linear. Sure enough after figuring out Double-A, Domínguez found his way to Triple-A Scranton, and nine games later, he was playing center field for the New York Yankees. He wasted no time in making an impact.
(MLB) 8 games, 33 PA, .258/.303/.677, 4 HR, 162 wRC+, .403 wOBA, 0.3 fWAR
(AAA/AA) 118 games, 544 PA, .265/.377/.425, 15 HR, 122 wRC+, .365 wOBA
2024 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration (rookie-eligible in 2024)
Let’s start from the beginning. The Yankees assigned the switch-hitting outfielder to Double-A Somerset to open the year, and there, he slashed .254/.367/.414 with 15 home runs, 83 runs scored, 37 stolen bases in 44 chances, and a 118 wRC+.
It took Domínguez 19 games to fully get going in Somerset, though. From the start of the season until May 3rd, Domínguez hit .125/.367/.304 with a .671 OPS. A 26.6-percent walk rate and a 98 wRC+ over that span were reasons for optimism, though. Rust and cold weather can affect even the best of prospects, after all.
From May 4th to August 20th, Domínguez slashed a cool .274/.367/.431 with 13 long balls, 27 stolen bases, a .798 OPS, and a 121 wRC+ in Double-A, earning himself a call to Scranton. He was especially hot from July 7th onward, as he hit a fantastic .350/.415/.535 with a .950 OPS and a 160 wRC+ in 176 plate appearances to close out his time in the Eastern League.
In Triple-A, Domínguez continued his dominance of minor league pitching. He played nine games there, and although he didn’t go deep, he posted a 180 wRC+ and a .419/.514/.581 line with a 16.2-percent walk rate and a 8.1-percent strikeout rate. It wasn’t much of a look, but with New York continuing its 2023 tailspin, plans changed in a hurry.
We all thought it was unlikely that the Yankees would call Domínguez up this season, but they did just that. The only downside was that he played eight games before blowing out his elbow, ultimately requiring surgery that will keep him sidelined well into the 2024 campaign.
Those eight games provided quite a bit to get excited about though. Domínguez homered in his first career at-bat against a brand name in Justin Verlander, kicking off a memorable opening series in Houston.
Domínguez became the first player at age 20 or younger to hit a home run in two of his first three career games since 1900. He ended up going yard four times and slugging .677 before going down.
Having played just 17 games above Double-A, it’s clear the Martian might still have things to learn. His plate discipline in MLB wasn’t at all disastrous, but his 6.1-percent walk rate was far lower than the marks he had in the minor leagues. His 24.2-percent strikeout rate in MLB was actually lower than his extended Double-A stint, but almost three times higher than his short Triple-A cameo.
Domínguez probably won’t hit .300 because he strikes out too much. However, his OBP makes him an asset, and he has a chance to hit 20 home runs and steal 30-35 bases while playing a decent center field at the MLB level. It probably won’t happen in 2024 because of the injury, but he has the potential to play at that pace in the power-speed department. For those curious, he ranked in the 76th percentile in sprint speed, per Baseball Savant — just a smidge below the acclaimed Anthony Volpe’s 79th-percentile mark.
If Domínguez can keep the strikeouts at a decent level – ideally, below 25 percent – he will draw walks, club homers, and swipe his share of bags, giving the Yankees a dynamic offensive performer to help that hapless lineup.
Between the three levels this year, Domínguez hit 19 home runs, stole 41 bases, scored 95 runs and drove in 83. He reached MLB at 20 years old, logged another year learning to play center field, and showed, albeit briefly, that he can perform at the highest level. That’s an A-grade year in our eyes.
Next year, when Domínguez is ready to return to play, he will have to show he can make the necessary adjustments to succeed in the majors. That entails defending the strike zone, laying off bad pitches, taking advantage of the hittable ones, learning to hit all kinds of breaking balls and offspeed stuff, catching up to top velocity up in the zone … you name it. Plenty of talented prospects like Domínguez have looked phenomenal in eight-game samples before fading, so it will be up to him to prove that he can be the real thing.
Still, Domínguez is talented enough to become an above-average performer for the Yankees as soon as next year. Given the state of the offense, that qualifies as fantastic news.