Yankees’ measured approach puts Dominguez out of the team’s 2024 picture

Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez is at his first rehab game playing for the Tarpons on May 14, 2024, in Tampa.

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It seems the Yankees have already decided on their plans for top prospect Jasson Dominguez once his 20-day rehab assignment concludes on June 4th. Despite his immense potential, the Martian will not be immediately joining the Yankees as a starting center fielder or bench player. Instead, he will be optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue his development.

The primary reason behind this decision is Dominguez’s lack of game experience due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on September 20th last year. After an extensive rehabilitation period of nearly eight months without playing in any games, the Yankees believe Dominguez needs more time to shake off the rust and regain his form.

Although the Yankees have not officially announced their plans for Dominguez, manager Aaron Boone provided a strong indication during a press conference before Wednesday night’s 4-0 victory over the Twins. When asked if Dominguez requires the equivalent of a full spring training, Boone responded affirmatively, stating that the young prospect needs “a month’s worth of playing and building up” before the Yankees make a decision on him.

“He’s in the first days of spring training games,” Boone told. “Let’s just get out of his way right now and get him right and get him playing and get him the regular reps and then we’ll see where we are hopefully in 10 days, two weeks from now when we’re now getting him into the outfield and start to really build him up. Then if we have a decision to make, we’ll obviously make that. But still, that’s a long ways off.” 

This approach demonstrates the Yankees‘ cautious and long-term vision for Dominguez’s development. By allowing him to gradually regain his rhythm and confidence in Triple-A, the organization aims to ensure that he is fully prepared to make a significant impact when he eventually joins the major league roster, even if it means waiting until next season.

While Dominguez has taken the first step on his road to recovery by appearing in one rehab game, the highly-touted Yankees prospect still faces a lengthy journey before returning to the Bronx. Even after his 20-day rehab assignment concludes, Dominguez may require additional minor-league seasoning to convince the Yankees brass to recall him.

Yankees rookie sensation Jasson Dominguez
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Unless injuries deplete the Yankees’ outfield depth, the 21-year-old phenom will likely be optioned to the minors once his rehab stint wraps up. The Yankees seem intent on exercising patience with their prized prospect, allowing him ample time to regain his form and avoid rushing his comeback from the intensive elbow procedure. Dominguez’s rehab appearance was an encouraging first step, but it’s merely the start of a comprehensive process to prepare him for the rigors of major league action.

Yankees’ plan longer than expected for Jasson Dominguez

Dominguez, the Yankees’ top prospect, took a significant step in his recovery by playing his first rehab game on Tuesday night with Low A Tampa. Batting second as the designated hitter, the switch-hitter showcased his skills, going 1-for-3 with a walk in four plate appearances. Notably, Dominguez faced former Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who was making his season debut with the Bradenton Marauders, now a part of the Pirates organization.

After a scheduled rest day on Wednesday, Dominguez is set to continue his rehab assignment, primarily serving as a designated hitter for the next two weeks before gradually transitioning to playing center field. The Yankees are keen on having Dominguez play numerous minor-league games in the outfield to ensure his throwing arm is in optimal condition for the regular season.

This careful approach to Dominguez’s rehabilitation is one of the reasons why the Yankees plan to option him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre once his rehab assignment concludes. Additionally, the Yankees are satisfied with their current outfield options on the 26-man roster, which includes starters Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, and Alex Verdugo, as well as fourth outfielder Trent Grisham, super-utility man Oswaldo Cabrera, and DH Giancarlo Stanton.

Manager Aaron Boone shed light on Dominguez’s situation, explaining that during the early stages of spring training games, Dominguez will primarily serve as a designated hitter. This allows him to focus on his preparation without unnecessary distractions. Boone emphasized the importance of providing Dominguez with consistent playing time and regular repetitions to accurately assess his progress.

Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez is at his first rehab game playing for the Tarpons on May 14, 2024, in Tampa.

Looking ahead, Boone expressed his hope that within the next 10 days to two weeks, Dominguez would begin playing in the outfield and gradually increase his workload. While acknowledging that decisions regarding Dominguez’s future role may arise, Boone stressed that such considerations were distant and would be addressed when necessary.

Dominguez’s imminent return from injury presents a conundrum for the Yankees, as their outfield is already stacked with elite talent. The formidable trio of Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, and Alex Verdugo have a firm grip on the starting spots, while Trent Grisham provides versatile defensive prowess as the fourth outfielder. Additionally, the versatile Jahmai Jones has capably filled in at multiple positions, including the outfield corners.

Given this logjam of big-league-caliber players, the Yankees are unlikely to rush Dominguez back to the majors in a limited bench role. Fortunately, they possess a viable solution – he still has minor league options remaining, allowing the organization to send him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for further seasoning.

With just 37 plate appearances at the highest minor league level under his belt, a return to Triple-A makes developmental sense for the 21-year-old phenom. Although Dominguez’s talents are tantalizing, the Yankees can afford to exercise patience, as he has ample time to carve out an impactful big-league career. Barring an injury crisis, 2024 is shaping up as another year of minor league grooming for the prized prospect.

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