Jasson Dominguez Lauded For Advanced Maturity, Work Ethic Despite Lost 2020 Development
Jasson Dominguez celebrated his 18th birthday on Feb. 7 with his family in the Dominican Republic.
Less than 24 hours later, the center fielder was on a plane headed back to the United States.
It was time for the Yankees’ top prospect to get back to work.
“I was really excited for my first year as a pro and I still feel that hype for Opening Day,” Dominguez said. “I’m tired of waiting. I’m desperate to get out there already.”
The Yankees have also been waiting for nearly two years to see Dominguez in game action in the U.S., something the coronavirus pandemic prevented from happening in 2020.
The Yankees signed Dominguez for $5.1 million in 2019, awarding him the highest bonus they have ever paid to an international amateur. He projects as a possible 30-30 player with plus potential for all five tools.
Yankees officials and scouts believe Dominguez has the potential to make a meteoric rise to the major leagues, like other Dominican stars such as Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“The tools are what everyone has reported and are undeniable,” Yankees international scouting director Donny Rowland said. “The athleticism and his past performance was very good. His makeup is off the charts. But all that said, the real test has not yet begun.”
Dominguez was training in Tampa last March when the pandemic forced sports to shut down for four months.
With travel to the Dominican Republic restricted, Dominguez found himself cut off from home and limited in what baseball activities he could participate in, like hitting and fielding in order to stay sharp.
“I went to stay with my aunt in New Jersey,” Dominguez said. “I was pretty much on my own. I have a cousin up there, but he has a job so he couldn’t take the time to really help me much.”
Dominguez, a switch-hitter who throws righthanded and is built like a football player with a muscular frame, possesses advanced bat speed for his age, already producing exit velocities of 108 mph or higher from both sides of the plate.
But when he made his way home to the Dominican Republic in July, he immediately began working to get himself back in baseball shape and had to trim a handful of pounds he put on during quarantine.
“I needed to lose a little weight when I first got home, and I was able to do that,” Dominguez said. “My focus was on increasing my agility and flexibility, so I did a lot of those types of exercises.”
Dominguez said he focused mostly on honing his skills tracking balls in the outfield and on his swing once he was able to practice hitting again. The Yankees like his chances to stay in center field because of his advanced route-running.
Dominguez was also able to hit balls off pitching machines that threw him breaking balls in order to improve his pitch recognition since most of his experience has come against primarily fastball throwers.
“You have to be alert at all times in center field and study the hitters you’re facing more so you know where to position yourself properly and have the best chance to make plays,” Dominguez said. “My work has gone well up to now, but my focus has to be greater in order to succeed.”
The Yankees’ last up-close look at Dominguez was at their Dominican instructional league camp last September, when Rowland said the 5-foot-10, 210-pound outfielder “looked fine and was throwing up some pretty hefty measurable metrics.”
Rowland cautions that Dominguez, like many other prospects so young and dealing with losing development time in 2020, could take some time to begin showing results.
“I think it’s possible any player, even Jasson, could start off slow because he missed so much time,” Rowland said. “But in the big picture, that won’t affect his upside or who he is. It’s just not having seen enough live pitching and at-bats.”
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Dominguez feels he will be a much more prepared player in 2021 than he was when he first signed, both on and off the field. Dominguez has maintained a humble attitude considering all the hype surrounding him, which impressed Rowland and others in the Yankees’ organization from the start.
“I have never seen him get off track in terms of his work,” Rowland said. “His maturity was well beyond most players I’ve dealt with at that age. There’s no, ‘Look at me—I’m the guy’ mentality at all. I think he knows he’s not even close to reaching his goal, and that’s important and to his advantage.”
Dominguez said not being able to play much over the past couple of years has given him a greater appreciation for the game and of what it will take to be a successful pro.
“I have a lot of ability, but after I signed I learned quickly it’s not just about ability,” Dominguez said. “There are a lot of things you have to learn. I feel more comfortable now going into this season.”