Jasson Dominguez’s historic feat ignites Yankees but limits are there

Jasson Dominguez reacts after hitting his first home run at Yankee Stadium in the Yankees vs. Tigers game on Sept 6, 2023.

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Last week, the Yankees elevated Jasson Dominguez to the major leagues, providing their highly touted prospect with valuable experience at the highest level of baseball. This promotion is well-earned for the young sensation, and there’s anticipation that he could be part of the team when spring training begins next year.

During Jasson Dominguez’s initial five games in the majors, the prevailing sentiment was that his performance, whether good or bad, would contribute to his development, especially with the Yankees out of playoff contention. However, the 20-year-old has exceeded expectations, not only showcasing his extraordinary offensive talents that earned him his unique nickname but also etching his name into the annals of baseball history. His remarkable play has garnered the admiration of his teammates and played a pivotal role in the team’s remarkable five-game winning streak.

On Wednesday night, Jasson Dominguez’s impressive performance included three hits, with one of them being his inaugural home run at Yankee Stadium. His solo shot, struck at a blistering 110.2 miles per hour and traveling to right field, provided crucial early-inning insurance that ultimately secured a 4-3 victory. It’s worth noting that in the majority of other MLB ballparks, this home run would not have cleared the outfield fence.

When inquired about his favorite aspect of playing at Yankee Stadium so far, Jasson Dominguez, speaking through interpreter Marlon Abreu, enthusiastically responded, “The right field wall! It’s fantastic!”

As Jasson Dominguez made his way around the bases, the YES Network cameras captured Aaron Judge in the Yankees’ dugout. Even without audio, it was evident that Judge was impressed, as he emphatically exclaimed “WOW” to his teammates.

Should Judge examine these statistics and details, it’s likely he’d have a similar reaction.

Jasson Dominguez continues to rewrite history

Jasson Dominguez now stands as only the second player in Yankees history to belt three home runs in his initial five career games. Shelley Duncan, who managed Domínguez for a brief period in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last month, is the sole other Yankee to have achieved this feat back in 2007.

Affectionately referred to as ‘The Martian’ (or ‘El Marciano’ in John Sterling’s home run call on WFAN), the prospect has made history by becoming the youngest player since at least 1901 to tally three or more homers and seven or more hits in his first five career games, as noted by Stathead’s Katie Sharp.

And let’s not forget those legendary comparisons to Mickey Mantle that have followed Jasson Dominguez throughout his journey in the Yankees’ farm system. Remarkably, he and Mantle are the only two players in Yankees history who were 20 years of age or younger and managed to hit three or more home runs within any five-game stretch.

Here’s another astonishing statistic, arguably the most remarkable of them all: Jasson Dominguez has notched a hit, scored a run, and witnessed his team win in each of his initial five career games. In the modern era of MLB, no other player has ever achieved this, as per OptaSTATS.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone commented that the player was enjoying playing baseball with a smile on his face, especially during their recent string of victories. Boone believed that the player recognized his own skill but also maintained the right level of humility. He noted that there was a natural and effortless demeanor about him.

These remarkable feats are certainly indicative of Jasson Dominguez’s extraordinary talent, but it’s crucial to remember that he has a substantial journey ahead of him. It’s imperative to keep in mind that we are analyzing a minuscule sample size at this point. A more comprehensive evaluation will be possible at the conclusion of this season, and even more so next spring.

Nonetheless, witnessing Jasson Dominguez achieve such immediate success is undeniably satisfying, especially for a prospect who has garnered immense attention and hype, arguably among the most highly anticipated in recent memory. It’s a captivating start, and the anticipation is palpable as we await to see what he can accomplish next.

Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt remarked that the player was very talented, and it was evident that he had a natural ability as a hitter. He considered him a significant threat in the middle of the lineup and found it enjoyable to witness the success of these young players. Schmidt expressed optimism about the Yankees’ future, both with the current impact players and those coming up in the years to come.

Wednesday’s performance by Jasson Dominguez and Oswald Peraza, both accumulating three hits each, is an occurrence that has rarely transpired in the Yankees’ history. In fact, it’s only the second instance since 1973 in which the team has witnessed two players aged 23 or younger achieving such a feat in a single game. The previous occurrence transpired on August 19, 2016, when Gary Sánchez and Ronald Torreyes accomplished this remarkable feat.

Limits on limitless future

gary sanchez-new-york-yankees
Wendell Cruz

A pertinent comparison can be drawn with Gary Sanchez, who stirred both the excitement of Yankees fans and the enthusiasm of team executives when, as a 23-year-old catcher, he was called up to the major leagues in August 2016. This move was made as part of a reset during the last season in which the team failed to secure a playoff spot.

Sanchez, who had spent six years within the organization since signing as an amateur free agent, burst onto the scene like a revelation. He emerged as the Yankees’ standout figure, even eclipsing Aaron Judge, who followed his debut by just ten days. Sanchez’s impressive stats included 20 home runs in 52 games, 42 RBIs, and a stellar slash line of .299/.376/.657, accompanied by a remarkable 1.032 OPS.

Despite playing in only one-third of the season, Sanchez secured a second-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting, narrowly trailing Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. At that point, the future seemed boundless. However, the subsequent trajectory of Sanchez’s career, his on-field performance, and his tenure with the Yankees turned out to be more restricted than anticipated.

jesus-montero-new-york-yankess
sportscasting

In 2011, there’s another notable case involving a 21-year-old catcher named Jesus Montero. The Yankees brought him up to the major league club as part of their September mass call-ups in preparation for the playoffs.

In just his fourth big-league game, Montero showcased his power by hitting two home runs against the Orioles at the Stadium, a performance that earned him two curtain calls. He continued to impress throughout his brief stint in the majors, boasting impressive numbers: a .328 batting average, a .406 on-base percentage, a .590 slugging percentage, a stellar .966 OPS, and a remarkable 163 OPS-plus. During this time, he also contributed with four home runs and 12 RBIs in just 18 games.

However, despite the promising start to his career, Montero’s future took an unexpected turn. Just three months after those memorable curtain calls, the Yankees decided to part ways with him. They traded Montero to the Seattle Mariners as part of a larger deal that brought starting pitcher Michael Pineda to New York.

Unfortunately, Montero’s journey in the major leagues didn’t go as anticipated. He struggled to maintain a consistent presence in the big leagues and found himself out of the majors for good a mere four years later.

You never really can be sure, can you?

AP Photo-Adam Hunger

Twelve years to the day after Montero’s memorable performance, the spotlight shifted to the 20-year-old Jasson Dominguez, who has rapidly become the face of the Yankees’ youth movement. His promotion to the majors was expedited, as he joined the team after just nine games and 31 at-bats in Triple-A, following a successful season at the Double-A level.

During the Yankees’ three-game weekend series in Houston, Jasson Dominguez made an impact by hitting two home runs. On Tuesday, he made his debut at Yankee Stadium, wearing No. 89 in pinstripes. In this game, he went 1-for-4 with a double in the eighth inning, having previously struck out and hit into a couple of force plays. This performance contributed to the Yankees’ seventh win in their last eight games, defeating the Tigers with a score of 5-1.

Despite having an extraordinary skill set that matches his out-of-this-world nickname, Jasson Dominguez appears remarkably grounded and composed. He maintained a low-key demeanor when addressing the press after the game and has handled the whirlwind of his initial four games in the major leagues admirably, amassing a 4-for-17 record during this period.

He mentioned that the baseball was essentially the same, but there were notable differences, such as having a larger number of fans and a heightened sense of excitement. However, after the initial couple of days, he had managed to temper his excitement and find more enjoyment in the experience. This statement was relayed through Abreu.

Manager Aaron Boone observed that the player appeared to have a positive disposition. He believed it was a positive experience for him to come up and have the kind of weekend where he achieved his first hits and home runs, which helped him overcome any initial nerves.

In 2019, the Yankees inked a deal with Jasson Dominguez, a young talent from the Dominican Republic, at the age of 16, offering him a remarkable international bonus of $5.1 million in a free agent contract. This signing generated immense excitement and expectations.

jasson-dominguez-new-york-yankees
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The narrative surrounding Jasson Dominguez has evolved consistently along with his development. Nobody could have foreseen a scenario where he would make his major league debut in the same year. However, the reality has taken a different course than anticipated.

The Yankees were in dire need of a shift in the conversation, and they have successfully achieved that. They now have a highly promising prospect to be excited about.

Boone stated that their primary goal was to witness ongoing development in Jasson Dominguez, who had left a strong impression during spring training. He noted that Jasson Dominguez was still very young at just 20 years old and had been a highly anticipated prospect for several years. Boone added that he believed Dominguez had managed the significant expectations placed on him exceptionally well.

Gary Sanchez, preceding him, Jesus Montero, and even earlier, Joba Chamberlain in 2007 – these were the last prospects the organization hurriedly promoted in a similar fashion. Chamberlain was also hailed as a phenom, and, like the others, it appeared that his future had boundless potential. However, as it turned out, there were limitations.

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