Jasson Dominguez gifts first HR ball to mom; Verlander admits defeat, Astros coach lacks explanation

Jasson Dominguez becomes the Yankees' youngest player to debut when he steps onto the field vs. the Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 1, 2023.
Jeremiah Dobbs
Sunday September 3, 2023

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In his Yankees debut at-bat in Houston, Jasson Dominguez hit his first career home run. The ball ended up among the fans in the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park. However, by the end of the night, he had the ball back thanks to the help of the Astros.

The Yankees got the ball for Jasson Dominguez with assistance from a woman in the crowd. She was a Yankees fan and agreed to trade the home run ball for just one signed baseball. However, because she was with her daughter, the Yankees and Jasson Dominguez decided to show their appreciation by sending her two signed baseballs in return.

Jasson Dominguez mentioned that he had plans to give the home run ball to his mom, who was among his many family members attending the Yankees’ 6-2 victory over the Astros.

Verlander accepted defeat to Jasson Dominguez

Scouting reports have improved a lot over the years, and the Astros provided Justin Verlander with detailed information on how to pitch to a player he had never encountered before. However, in their first matchup against a player half his age, the future Hall of Famer, Verlander, ended up on the losing side.

According to Verlander, it was a bit of a cat-and-mouse game between him and Jasson Dominguez. They were both trying to understand each other’s strategies. Verlander pointed out that the first thing to figure out was where Jasson Dominguez preferred to hit the ball, and it seemed that he hit it right where Verlander threw it.

“I kind of figured he would be [aggressive],” Verlander said. “I think the first thing you’ve got to figure out is, where does he like to hit the ball? Apparently, right where I threw it.”

Jasson Dominguez becomes the Yankees' youngest player to debut when he steps onto the field vs. the Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 1, 2023.

Jasson Dominguez, who can bat from both the left and right sides, was hitting from the left when he faced a 94 mph fastball right over the middle of the plate. He hit that pitch 360 feet in the opposite direction. It was a truant shock to Verlander, who takes pride in dominating the Yankees, and thrilled MLB fans.

Jasson Dominguez didn’t hope Verlander to throw a curve ball. However, he dealt with it.

“It caught me off-guard there, first pitch,” he told. “But we go to meetings and we prepare and I stuck to my plan there.”

“To me, it’s being able to connect and getting that homer, that’s what really, really means a lot to me. And I understand, Verlander, a future Hall of Famer. But to me, being able to do that is special.”

With his very first swing in the MLB, he smashed a two-run home run, making it clear that “The Martian” had officially arrived.

Rivals admired the Martian’s aggression in his first swing

Jasson Dominguez didn’t give much time for evaluation. In his very first time at-bat, he hit his first career home run, displaying impressive power to the opposite field on only the second pitch he faced in the major leagues. But in his next three turns at the plate, he quickly made three outs.

In the highly anticipated debut of one of the most hyped prospects ever, Jasson Dominguez only saw seven pitches in total, and he put four of them into play. His approach was clear. Jasson Dominguez was there to swing the bat hard and swing it aggressively.

Yankees sensation Jasson Dominguez is with his parents at Minute Maid Park in Houston on September 1, 2023.

Speaking on the home run from “The Martian,” Astros manager Dusty Baker commented that Jasson Dominguez would always remember that moment. Dusty observed that Jasson Dominguez didn’t waste time and swung at the first pitch in nearly every at-bat. He also noted that the rookie was an aggressive hitter and predicted that he would become a very good player.

“Their young guys were swinging from the time they left the dugout and he just got a couple of balls up,” Baker said. “Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes there’s no explanation.”

The Yankees are optimistic that Dusty Baker is right about their 20-year-old second-ranked prospect. Despite his young age, Jasson Dominguez’s swing and power are quite impressive.

He made history by becoming the youngest Yankee to play in a game since Jose Rijo, who was just 19 years old when he debuted in 1984. Jasson Dominguez signed with the Yankees at just 16 years old in 2019, and as he progressed through the system, there was a growing focus on improving his ability to judge the strike zone. During his time with Single-A Tampa in 2021, he struck out in about 31.3 percent of his at-bats.

While he still has a tendency to strike out (around 25.6 percent of the time during his time with Double-A Somerset this year), he has also demonstrated more discipline by walking in approximately 15.2 percent of his at-bats with Somerset.

According to Jasson Dominguez, the biggest improvements in his career have come from making better decisions at the plate. During his debut, those improved decisions included swinging aggressively at strikes, one of which resulted in a memory he will cherish forever.

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