Dominguez to make Futures Game history
The Jasson Dominguez era officially began when he dug into the batter’s box in the Florida Complex League on Monday. A lot more people are going to get to see what the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect is all about in the very near future.
MLB.com has learned that Dominguez, No. 24 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, will play in the 2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, to be held on Sunday, July 11 at Coors Field in Denver. The contest is set for seven innings, beginning at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET), and it will be televised exclusively on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com.
He’ll be the first player to participate in the Futures Game without having played in a full-season league and he’s the youngest player since Vladimir Guerrero Jr. played in the game at age 18 in 2017. And Dominguez is just one of 50 players who will participate in the game, which has showcased the top prospects in the game every year since 1999. Make sure to tune into MLB Central on MLB Network on Wednesday to find out who will be joining Dominguez in this year’s contest, with the roster reveal coming approximately at 11:15 a.m. ET.
Dominguez, now 18 years old, was one of the most hyped up international prospects in recent memory when he became available for the 2019-20 signing period. The Yankees gave the outfielder $5.1 million, all but $300,000 of their bonus pool that year, to sign him on July 2, 2019. That was a record for the organization in terms of a bonus for one international amateur, but the Yankees feel he’s worth it and that the lofty comparisons to Bo Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout will prove to be warranted.
“The type of repetition here in the States is going to be good,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Between his work ethic and his physical ability, none of that can be denied. The only thing that was denied was the ability to compete. This is another platform for him to compete.
“Is this premature to have someone unwrapped like this in a Futures Game? The answer is yes. At the same time, we can’t deny it’s an experience he will learn from. Good or bad, it’s a growth opportunity. We just decided to take advantage of it if they decided to select him.”
“I feel there’s equal parts hype and mystery about who he is,” Yankees farm director Kevin Reese added. “Due to the COVID season disappearing, a lot of people haven’t seen him. Let’s try to temper expectations because people are comparing him to some really, really good players.”
While Reese and the Yankees are trying to manage the hype machine -- Dominguez is just 18, after all, and had his first professional plate appearances in the Florida Complex League just this past Monday -- it’s hard not to get excited. And the chance to see him in a big league stadium, on national TV, with the best prospects in baseball? It’s almost too good to be true.
“He is very mature,” Reese said. “He’s working very hard on his English. Things around the game and the approach he drops on his coaches, you see it every day. It’s not just his speed or his exit velocity, he does things that are different. That made it easier to say yes. If that’s what people want to see, we’re in the entertainment business, we don’t want to keep him from that. I think it’ll be a good experience to get around some really good players and we’ll go from there.
“We don’t think it’ll go to his head. We’re confident in his maturity and his confidence. Even if he doesn’t go off, it’ll be ok.”
While his official resume is still understandably thin, Dominguez has been doing things away from the spotlight that have made the Yankees pretty confident their investment is going to pay off. Reese relayed a story about him hitting a home run, 114 mph off the bat, over their complex building in Tampa recently. Simply put: “He can do things that most 18-year-olds can’t.”
“With all of the people involved, some of them are frustrated that he’s still at this level and think he can play at a level or two above,” Reese explained. “I’ve been very impressed with how he’s taken it all in stride. We emphasize it’s not a race to get you to A, or High A, it’s to help you be a very good Major Leaguer. Hopefully you are that impact player everyone thinks you can be. He’s done some stuff you just don’t see.”
And he’s already gotten better since the Yankees signed him, now almost two years ago. Even top prospects can struggle, and the Yankees rightly assume Dominguez will face some adversity, but aside from his freakish physical gifts, how the young outfielder has been carrying himself has really stood out.
“The game doesn’t seem fast to him,” Reese said. “We know every player is going to go through times when they’re not killing it and I think he’ll handle that really well. We’ve had players who have come through with big bonuses and had struggles and mentally that doesn’t go well. I think he’s going to be good in those situations and it will shorten those times of struggle.”
“His growth mindset, his openness to information and trying to adapt and adjust and acclimate stand out,” Cashman said. “You get an antenna up early on higher selections in the draft or the bigger bonus guys… they come in with ‘I don’t need any help.’
“He’s actually open to everything we’ve got and incorporating things because he’s hungry to climb the ladder, so he’s not going to turn away from any opportunity to get better. The willingness to trust and adjust a process that’s new to him. That’s pretty encouraging to us, combine that with his work ethic and physical gifts, it provides a higher opportunity for him to reach a level of his ceiling.”