Sports

Why Yankees are keeping Jasson Dominguez a minor-league ‘mystery’

Jasson Dominguez has been compared to everyone from Mike Trout, to Mickey Mantle to Bo Jackson.

And he still hasn’t played an actual professional game.

That won’t change when the minor league season starts Tuesday, since the Yankees kept their top prospect in extended spring training in Tampa instead of assigning him to a team.

“We’re in a different world,” senior director of player development Kevin Reese said Monday. “We didn’t play last year. Jasson is an 18-year-old that we’re all excited about. He’s got a lot of talent and a lot of skill. He hasn’t played in a ton of games. We just wanted to put him in the best place to succeed.”

Reese said Dominguez could “absolutely” make his debut with a minor league affiliate during this shortened minor league season, perhaps with Low-A Tampa.

“As we tell the players, all of these decisions are short-term,” Reese said. “Nothing is necessarily etched in stone and everybody has a chance to pave their own road ahead. He’s certainly in that group of guys that have a chance to impact a full-season roster.”

Dominguez is among the players whose development was impacted when the minor leagues were shut down and teams were limited to a 60-player pool for their major league roster and alternate site last season.

After signing with the Yankees for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic, Dominguez remains somewhat of an unknown.

He participated in minor league spring training and “everybody walked away super impressed,” according to Reese.

The switch-hitting Dominguez is working exclusively in center field and the Yankees remain enthralled with his power and speed, and they like his attitude.

“He was a pro,” Reese said of how Dominguez handled himself in spring training. “He was one of the guys. We’ve all seen guys ask for things to be done a certain way because they’re a certain level of prospect or type of player. He fit in really well. Guys liked being around him, players and staff… Everything came to the table as advertised with the talent and makeup. It’s all there.”

For now, though, that talent and makeup will remain at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa.

Reese and Eric Schmitt, director of player development, broke the news to Dominguez that he wouldn’t be on a minor league roster out of camp.

“We kind of pulled him aside and he had this look on his face [of], ‘What did I do?’ ” Reese said.  “We made a joke that we heard he snuck out of the hotel and he immediately said ‘Foul ball…’ like ‘That didn’t happen.’

“He’s mature. We walked him through the reasoning and the process and he took it all in stride. He had no issues or questions. He’s out there doing work right now.”

And it’s the work that keeps the Yankees feeling good about their investment.

“The first thing you notice is the physicality,” Reese said. “He doesn’t look like an 18-year-old kid… He is very physical and you notice that in everything that he does. He’s explosive, whether it’s running, the way he warms up, the way he moves around. He jumps off the page as you watch him perform at whatever it is.”

Jasson Dominguez will stay in extended spring training with Yankees
Jasson Dominguez will stay in extended spring training with Yankees
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At some point, the Yankees hope that includes playing in a minor league game.

“I apologize you have to wait a little bit longer for that mystery to unveil itself,” Reese said. “When it comes, you’ll know.”

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