Kevin Reese, Yankees vice president of player development, has Description of noise And the expectations surrounding potential player Jason Dominguez are on a “completely different” level than any other amateur player the team has signed.
In part, this is because Dominguez received a $5.1 million signing bonus in 2019; His nickname is “The Martian” because his baseball talent is considered to be from another world. This past season, Dominguez showed why he’s considered one of the best prospects in baseball. After spending the regular season in Class A ball, he was promoted before the Double-A playoffs, hitting . 450/. 560/. 950 with three home runs, 10 RBI and five walks in five games. In the Championship Game, Dominguez finished 3-for-4, hitting from both sides of the plate and striking out in six runs. All in 2022, Dominguez hit 16 homers, stole 37 bases and finished with an OPS of 0.837.
Dominguez will likely have at least two more years until he’s ready for the majors. But the Yankees He believes that if he continues on his current path, he can somehow reach the lofty expectations that were placed on him when he was 16 years old.
“We definitely thought so given his ability at his age when we signed him,” said Donnie Rowland, the Yankees’ international director of amateur scouting. “We gave him a big signing bonus because of that. When he was offered as an amateur here (in the Dominican Republic) the kits were pretty much off the charts across the board. He’s got to keep those kits. He can’t lose any of them. If he doesn’t He does and keep going and keep performing, with the tools he has, he can definitely be a regular starter. That’s what we saw when we signed him.”
Jason Dominguez is out of this world! 👽
Somerset Patriots (SOMPatriots) September 28, 2022
Dominguez will most likely start next year at Double A because he has only played 10 games at that level. But the Yankees were encouraged by his development in 2022 after his first professional season in 2021, when he was 18 and opponents in the Florida Complex League were usually in their early 20s.
“He went to the high level and did a good job and pretty much everything improved,” Rowland said. “Then he went to Double A and struggled in the regular season and had group playoff games. Everything seemed to be going very well and even when he went up to the top level last year things progressed very quickly. We’ll see. He still has a lot to learn and he has a ways to go but he’s been He’s 19 at Double A and has done well in the playoffs.I think last year, he was the only junior to hit a home run from both sides of the plate and he did it twice in the same game.
“I just saw him (in the Dominican Republic) and he looks great as far as conditioning is concerned. His physique looks great. His physique looks great. His athletic ability looks great.”
Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone have both said on numerous occasions now that they expect to have competition at shortstop this spring between Oswald Peraza, the current starter. Isiah Keener Valeva and possible No. 1 Anthony Volpe.
Peraza only played 18 regular season games after the call-up in September but was impressive even with his sporadic playing time. The sample size in the panel is too small to generate any conclusions about how well he would perform if given the starting role. But he had a high quality strike, showed he could hit fastballs, and had a good walk rate and an excellent strike rate. This is not to say that fans should expect him to hit the ground running and win the batting title as a junior, but it is encouraging that he was able to do well at the plate given the inconsistent chances.
His real value now lies in his glove, and this is where he can instantly make a difference. The Yankees constantly stuck with Kenner Valeva. That only changed, when their season was on the line in the American League Series, due to his defensive errors, which came after repeated comments during the regular season insisting he was one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. In fact, the signs were clear that Kiner-Falefa was struggling on the field even when he was making plays. His arm was not strong enough and he constantly had throws that were at the first baseman’s feet.
Kiner-Falefa was also an below-average hitter last season with 85 wRC+ and a 1.2 percent barrel rate, the lowest of any qualifying shortstop. Even if Peraza is struggling as much as Kiner-Falefa at the plate — and he’s been above average every year in the minors since he was on Low-A ball in 2019 — he still has to upgrade because of his glove.
“I thought he showed a lot of defensive ability,” Rowland said of Peraza’s short stint with the Yankees. “He competed on the board. We’ll see what happens when he comes into spring training. He’s clearly someone our international staff are very proud of the way he’s progressed. The expectations we have are a credit to him and our international staff but it’s a credit to the player development as well. All of us working together have created a league Chief. We’ll see. I thought he handled himself well from what I saw from afar.”
All indications are that coming into the spring Peraza is the favorite to win the job, but the wild card is Volpe, whom the organization highly values and considers a future star. Peraza has an advantage over Volpe in that he’s already seasoned in Triple A and has major league experience, while Volpe has only played 22 games in Triple A and won more than 30 percent of his at-bats with Scranton.
With both Peraza and Volpe being short stops, it is likely that one of them will have to switch positions. Right now, the better midfielder is Peraza.
“When we signed him, we thought he was quick to stop,” Rowland said. “And as of now, there is no reason to believe that it is not.”
Oswaldo Cabrera was an inspiration for the Yankees, particularly on the field, last season after being called up in mid-August. Even with only 44 major league games under his belt, he’s produced 1.5 fWAR this season – the same Aaron Hickswho played 130 matches.
The Yankees signed Cabrera as a 16-year-old from Venezuela for $100,000 after signing his older brother, Leobaldo, whom they have since released, for $250,000. When the Yankees scouted Cabrera, they thought one day he could become an everyday player because of how smart and well-rounded he was as an amateur. But there was no chance if he didn’t grow up.
“We knew he needed a lot of development and he needed a lot of body maturation,” Rowland said. “He needed Mother Nature to kick in and do her job. That got it. He had the disposition of a hitter on both sides of the box. He made consistent quality connections. Defensively, he was sound and droppable. His arm when we signed him was just below the average major league and he That got better. We definitely thought he had a chance to be a big league player. Whether it was shortstop or second baseman, we had mixed opinions. Either way, we thought his bat would play enough to play either of those roles.”
Cabrera has since become one of the most versatile players in baseball—not just a center fielder but also a cornerback and cornerback. There is a chance Cabrera could become the starting left fielder on Opening Day, but the current thinking is that his real value lies in his versatility; He would still be given a chance in the spring to win the job over Hicks or any of the other invitees not on the list.
The Yankees — from the front office to the players — have done nothing but rave about Cabrera since his debut, and he quickly became a fan favorite for the level of enthusiasm he brought to a team desperate for a jolt of youthful energy when he arrived in August.
“Kicking with him has always had the make-up,” Rowland said. “At that age (when we signed him), he was so bright, charismatic and always had a smile on his face. He just loves to play the game. He’s great with people and he’s a great kid. We didn’t sign him just because he was such a great kid; we signed him because he’s a baseball player.” “Cool, but it sure helps that he’s such a good kid. He’s comfortable with people. To me, that shows self-confidence. When someone feels comfortable, they tell you a lot about them and say they’re doing something right with their life.”
Roderick Arias Health
Arias, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect in the international free agency signing class of 2022, made his debut in the Dominican Summer League last season as a 17-year-old. Arias played in 31 games for the Yankees in the summer league hitting .194/.379/.370 and committing 13 errors in 97 opportunities at shortstop. Most of these errors were due to missed throws.
A wrist injury delayed Arias’ debut for a few weeks and its effects hampered his performance throughout his season. The Yankees say he’s now fully recovered and feels like he’s made a natural progression for a player his age. Since the Dominican Summer League season ended, Rowland said Arias has gotten stronger and grown a little bit more with his strength showing than he showed before the Yankees gave him a $4 million signing bonus.
The Yankees continue to impress with his arm strength despite struggling with accuracy in his first season as a pro. Rowland said that Arias is a first-rate arm and that the plan is to continue developing him as a middle player.
“I think there’s every reason to believe right now that he’ll continue at shortstop,” Rowland said. “That is why we value him so highly because he is a quick stopping guy who has value offensively with contact and power. If he was a left fielder, he wouldn’t be highly valued.”
Updates on other prospects
Outfielder Iverson Pereira Rated as the team’s No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, he could end up making his major league debut sometime this season. He has a 20-20 potential while being able to play every position in the field. Like many prospects, he needs to cut back on hitting before he gets time in the Bronx.
• First baseman/third baseman Andres Chaparro was the first prospect Rowland mentioned as a name to know going forward. Chaparro has been battling a tear in the minors since being promoted to A-class in 2021. Since then, the 23-year-old has batted . 561 and hit 25 home runs and 21 doubles in 102 games. He led Somerset last season with 19 home runs and outperformed high-profile prospects such as Volpi, Austin Wells and Iverson Pereria at the helm. He’ll likely see time in Triple A this season, if he doesn’t start there. With Josh Donaldson He became a free agent after this season and DJ Limahieu Possibly becoming a player whose workload needs to be more carefully managed, there is a potential role for Chaparro with the Yankees in 2024 if he continues to progress.
• Carlos LaGrange is a 6-foot-7 from the Dominican Republic who made his professional debut at the age of 19 with the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League this past season. Lagrange is a fireball player who has already been recorded for throwing 100 miles per hour. He struck 43 in 33 innings serving as a starter but his drive was still erratic; He walked 19 batters and had 13 wild runs. If he can get a grip on his arsenal, he has the tools to quickly move up the system.
• Catcher Antonio Gomez signed with the Yankees out of Venezuela for $600,000 and became the best defensive player in the system. Gomez has committed just 17 errors in 903 2/3 innings over the past three seasons and has thrown out 31 percent of runners. Because of his defense, Gomez has at least a chance of becoming a backup catcher in the major leagues one day.
• Angel Benitez is another 19-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic who made 98 touchdowns and had extra minor pitches but had Tommy John surgery. Rowland believes Benitez may be the best pitcher in the Dominican Republic but his development is clearly on pause while he rehabilitates.
• Jerson Alejandro signed with the Yankees in this signing period and the organization believes he is one of the best overall pitchers of the season. He throws 98 with overchange and a good drive at 6-foot-6 and 255 lbs.
(Top photo by Jason Dominguez: Mark J. Repelas/USA Today)