After Returning To Earth, Jasson Dominguez Remains A Solid Prospect

Image credit: Jasson Dominguez (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Jasson Dominguez’s nickname is The Martian.

You probably knew that. It’s hard to imagine that there is anyone who clicks on a story at Baseball America who was unaware of this fact.

He’s The Martian because he had an otherworldly combination of size and speed as a teenager. When the Yankees signed him in 2019, he was a 5-foot-11, 195-pound switch-hitting center fielder who could turn in a top-of-the-scale, 80-grade run time and was also projected to potentially have 80-grade raw power.

When a 15- or 16-year-old looks like Dominguez looked, runs like Dominguez ran and hits like Dominguez hit, the understandable hope is to wonder what he will look like if he continues to develop down a similar track. 

That’s not the way baseball always works. Nowadays, the Martian is somewhat of a misnomer of a nickname for Dominguez. Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz, now that’s a Martian. 

Cruz has some of the best power in the majors as well as the strongest arm as well as top-of-the-scale speed. Oh, and he’s a 6-foot-7 shortstop.

Among current prospects, Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz is the player with the most otherworldy combination of tools and production.  

Shohei Ohtani? He’s likely from somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy.

Dominguez? The nickname doesn’t really fit. That’s not a slight or a knock. It’s just that it’s hard to say in 2022 that his tool set places him among the sport’s elite. 

He has power, but Jordan Walker and James Wood have more. Even among Yankees prospects, Dominguez’s power is bested by 2022 draftee Spencer Jones

Dominguez also runs very well for someone with his thick, powerful frame, but he’s not a top-of-the-scale speedster. He swiped 37 bases in 44 tries this year, which is very impressive, but with the liberalized basestealing rules in the minors, that figure placed 60th. He’s an excellent runner for his size, but not an exceptional runner compared to the rest of baseball.

Dominguez has a shot to stay in center field, but he’s not viewed as a plus defender up the middle. He could be above-average in the corners.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking that this is an attempt to pop the hot air balloon-sized hype that has followed Dominguez since before he signed with the Yankees.

It’s not. 

If you look at Dominguez as something other than the next Mickey Mantle, what he’s done and what he could do look way more impressive than they do when you are trying to compare him to Hall of Famers. 

If you’re expecting him to be a 40-40 threat in the majors, you’re likely going to be disappointed. But if you look at Dominguez as a well-rounded prospect with impressive secondary skills, then there’s a lot to like about his game. Dominguez has power, speed and he knows how to draw a walk.

There have been plenty of highly touted international prospects who flame out. Kevin Maitan was viewed as one of the best pure hitters to sign on July 2 in years when the Braves landed him in 2016. By the time he was 20, he’d gone from being a loose and athletic 16-year-old shortstop to a stiffer, bigger third baseman. 

Robert Puason, the other top prospect in Dominguez’s signing class, has struggled to make contact throughout his young pro career. He currently sports a sub-.600 career OPS.

Dominguez isn’t a bust. He’s a player who showed some holes in his game in his full-season debut in 2021 and, to his credit, improved almost every aspect of his game in 2022. 

Sent back to Low-A to start the year, he proved to be one of the best hitters in the Florida State League. Promoted to High-A Hudson Valley, he also was one of the better hitters in the South Atlantic League. He even got a cup of coffee with Double-A Somerset, which is where he’ll most likely begin 2023. 

He struggled in the regular season at Somerset before exploding in the playoffs, and has looked overmatched at times in the Arizona Fall League. It’s the end of a long season, however, and he’s younger than most of the players he has faced at either level.

Dominguez has handled a massive amount of attention and hasn’t wilted in that spotlight. He has a very well-rounded game. While there may not be any 80 tools (or even 70s) on his scouting report, there also aren’t any below-average grades. He has a chance to have five above-average tools (we currently project him with four but his defense could get there with improvement).

That gives him a chance to be a very solid MLB player. 

Looked at through a different lens, if Dominguez ended up having a Melky Cabrera-type career—15 MLB seasons, an all-star appearance and half a career as a center fielder before moving to a corner—that would be a solid outcome. With Dominguez’s power potential, he could end up being more of a B.J. Upton type who could post a 20-20 season or better at his peak.

Either of those outcomes would be impressive, but when fans expect you to be the Martian, it’s going to be hard to live up to expectations here on Earth.


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