Home Sports Yankees deprived of watching $5 million teen Jasson Dominguez

Yankees deprived of watching $5 million teen Jasson Dominguez

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Part 3 in a series analyzing the Yankees’ top prospects 

The 2020 season was supposed to be the debut of The Martian.

After signing Jasson Dominguez to a $5.1 million bonus last year, the Yankees expected to get their first real look at their newest prospect this season, first in the Dominican Summer League then perhaps in the Gulf Coast League in Tampa later this summer.

Instead, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wait continues for the Dominican Republic native — on whom the Yankees spent nearly all of their international pool money last year.

“We’ve gotten a glimpse of what he can do in instructional league and a few at-bats in intrasquad [games] last year,’’ Mario Garza, now the Yankees coordinator of baseball development, said in February. “This will be the first real test.”

And despite his talent that made Dominguez the prize of last year’s international free agency, the Yankees know the real test will come on the field.

“The young Latin kids really need games,’’ said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ former senior vice president of baseball operations. “They grow up in a system that is more workout-oriented than the U.S. system. Games are the focus here.”

And Newman emphasized the impact the lack of games will have on players like Dominguez, as well as Kevin Alcantara, another 17-year-old the Yankees signed out of the Dominican Republic last summer.

Jasson Dominguez
Jasson DominguezFacebook

“The effect is especially significant with the development of the hit tool,’’ Newman said. “Young hitters need to see movement, changes of speed and game situations. Minor league games are essentially simulations for MLB. They are critical to the process.’’

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That process is stalled now — and likely will be for the remainder of the year, as the minor league season is in serious jeopardy due to cutbacks caused by the coronavirus.

It’s unclear when or where those players will work out as MLB tries to figure out a way to salvage at least part of the major league season.

For the switch-hitting Dominguez, though, this should only slow — and not stop — his development. He figured to be four or five years away from the majors, and there seems to be little doubt he’s destined for stardom.

Dominguez turned 17 in February and had already impressed some of the Yankees coaches who had seen him hit at the team’s complex in the Dominican, alongside Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar.

He’s drawn comparisons to Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig, but despite the hype, there remains reason for caution.

Because though the Yankees struck gold with Gary Sanchez, who signed with the Yankees in 2009 for $3 million, they also missed on Jesus Montero, who got $1.6 million in 2006 and flamed out.

The only way to prove his worth will be for Dominguez to produce in games, when it counts. But there seems to be little doubt that will happen.

“He would have gotten the same number from a lot of teams,’’ one AL executive said of Dominguez’s price. “He’s not someone that comes along every year or every five years. He’s special.’’

The evidence of that trait will have to wait a while — and there’s no telling when Dominguez will finally get to play in games.

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