2019-20 MLB International Reviews: New York Yankees
The track record of the top ranked 16-year-old international prospect in a given class going back to 2012 is strong. These were the top players in our July 2 rankings during that time:
Vladdy Jr. was the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball before graduating to the big leagues at 20. Franco is the current No. 1 prospect in the minors. Eloy was No. 3 before he graduated this year. Luciano is coming off a dominant pro debut this year and is already in the Top 100. Barreto has yet to break through at the major league level, but he's still 23 and a former Top 100 prospect himself. Rondon is a bust and Maitan is trending that way, but the rest of that group is filled with elite, impact potential young players.
That's the category Jasson Dominguez falls under, with the Yankees committing nearly all of their bonus pool to sign the Dominican outfielder for $5.1 million, tied with Athletics shortstop Robert Puason for the highest bonus of the 2019-20 signing period.
Dominguez, who trained with Ivan Noboa, is a baseball rat who combines explosive tools and athleticism with advanced baseball skills for a 16-year-old. He packs it all into an unusually strong, muscular frame for his age, at a relatively filled out 5-foot-10, 195 pounds. He's built like a shorter version of Yoan Moncada and his tools are comparable. He's a plus-plus runner and a quick-twitch athlete with a burst in his first step. He explodes off the bat in the outfield, taking good routes and tracking balls with ease. With his range and an accurate arm that earns plus to plus-plus grades, Dominguez has the tools for center field. He also worked out for clubs as an infielder and even as a catcher, a position he played more of as a kid, but the Yankees are committed to him in center field.
Teams primarily evaluated Dominguez at Noboa's complex, where he consistently hit and hit with power against live pitching. A switch-hitter, Dominguez has explosive bat speed on an efficient swing. He has good bat path through the hitting zone, staying on plane with the pitch for a long time with good rhythm and balance. He tracks pitches well, recognizes spin and doesn't chase much, showing a mature plan and approach for his age. With a knack for being on time, Dominguez has good bat-to-ball skills and has shown the ability to square up high velocity arms. Dominguez has plus power, with exit velocities pushing the 110 mph range, and he taps into that juice in games with his feel for the barrel and ability to hit the ball in the air. He should make his pro debut next year in the United States.
The Yankees' class centered around Dominguez, but they gave six-figure deals to a couple of other notable prospects. One of them is Enger Castellano, a 17-year-old Dominican third baseman who signed for $377,500 and has similarities to Miguel Andujar when the Yankees signed him in 2011. Castellano is strong and well-proportioned (6 feet, 190 pounds) for a third baseman with a fast bat and above-average raw power. He's an aggressive hitter who goes up to the plate looking to drive the ball for extra-base damage, and he generally performed well in games as an amateur. He showed ability to react to breaking pitches, hitting one over the fence at 108 mph off the bat before signing. Castellano has the tools to stay at third base. He will need to improve his agility, but he has a plus arm and hands to stick in the dirt. Castellano trained with Anyelo LeClerc.
The Yankees also signed catcher Manuel Placencia out of Venezuela. At 6 feet, 200 pounds, Placencia is an offensive-oriented catcher with a sound swing and a chance to hit for power from the right side of the plate. Placencia is advanced as a hitter for a 17-year-old catcher and he has an average arm that could tick up, but he will need to improve his blocking and receiving to stay behind the plate. If not, he runs well for a catcher and would be athletic enough for an outfield corner. Placencia trained with Carlos Rios.