Scout unfolds why Yankees bet big on Jasson Dominguez with a rare contract

Jasson Dominguez at the age of 16 and on September 3, 2023, when he hit his second homer in third game for the Yankees.

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HOUSTON — Putting $5.1 million on a 16-year-old was a gamble in 2019. However, Donny Rowland, Yankees’ director of international scouting, made the decision when he saw Jasson Dominguez. The Yankees didn’t need to be sure right away that they made a good choice, but it definitely made things better. In 2023, they are just reaping the dividends.

When he was just 16 years old in July 2019, Jasson Dominguez signed a contract. It was a big deal because he got a record-breaking signing bonus of $5.1 million for an international free agent. This was a way for the team to show they believed in him and his character.

Jasson Dominguez won over Yankees with his skill and character

After the signing, Jasson Dominguez went back to the Ivan Noboa Baseball Dreams Academy, the place where he had been practicing. He decided to give most of his baseball equipment to the kids who were still training there. This gesture showed Rowland that Jasson Dominguez had all the qualities the Yankees wanted in a player.

The scouting head told The Post that it was a rare occurrence to find a combination like that. He explained that they evaluated different aspects, such as skills, physical abilities, character, and amateur performance. He also mentioned that the analytical data had supported all these factors, and Jasson Dominguez had met all the criteria they were seeking.

Jasson Dominguez’s dream became a reality on Friday when he played his first game in the major leagues at Minute Maid Park. He had a great performance, hitting a home run, and it was also a special moment for the people who had scouted him.

jasson-dominguez-ny-yankees
AP Photo

The Yankees invested nearly 90 percent of their international pool money in Jasson Dominguez. They decided to focus on one young player with superstar potential instead of spreading their money across a larger group of prospects, which could have been like buying many lottery tickets. This wasn’t a common strategy for the Yankees at the time, but it has become more common recently. In 2022, they spent $4 million on shortstop Roderick Arias, and this year, they spent $4.4 million on outfielder Brando Mayea.

Even though the Yankees typically have smaller bonus budgets compared to other teams, they still manage to compete at the top of the market for promising international talent.

The Martian legend began two years before his signing

The 20-year-old is perhaps the most highly anticipated prospect in the history of the Yankees. He’s a center fielder who can hit from both sides of the plate, and some people have even compared him to the legendary player Mickey Mantle.

According to Rowland, the story of Jasson Dominguez’s legend started when he was about 14 years old during a practice game in the Dominican Republic. Rowland watched the game, trying not to show his excitement to scouts from other teams. In that game, Jasson Dominguez hit home runs from both the right and left sides of the plate, displayed impressive speed, and played in a way that was unlike any other 14-year-old he had ever seen.

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.
NYY

Rowland mentioned before the Yankees’ 6-2 win over the Astros that it was challenging for him not to chuckle quietly and reveal his true feelings. He found it surprising that someone of Jasson Dominguez’s age had such exceptional skills. Rowland added that he had never witnessed someone of that age with such remarkable abilities before.

He also inquired with a couple of Yankees scouts if they had witnessed a similar performance by Jasson Dominguez. One scout responded that he had actually seen him perform even better. This marked the start of a process in which Rowland started collecting information. He watched the teenager play in about 30 different games to be sure of what he was seeing.

At the same time, this was when they began to understand the kind of person young Jasson Dominguez was turning into. Rowland noted that his character was outstanding, and it had to be that way to handle all the attention, comparisons, and money that was coming his way.

Rowland commented that occasionally, there’s a player who clearly emerges as the number one choice in the market. He explained that there was no rationale for not securing the top player in the market. Rowland further noted that Jasson Dominguez’s performance made it quite evident and uncomplicated for them to take the initiative in signing him.

They decided to sign Jasson Dominguez, but the Yankees doesn’t want to take credit for his nickname.

Rowland shared that after the signing, many teams approached him in astonishment, expressing disbelief that he was kidding. Additionally, he mentioned that a representative from another team playfully referred to Jasson Dominguez as “The Martian,” implying that he was out of this world.

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