Why Yankees' Jasson Dominguez must be promoted despite 2023 struggles

New York Yankees Spring Training
New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

While it would seem silly to promote Yankees phenom Jasson Dominguez directly from Double-A to MLB, he might genuinely have a better shot at contributing at the big-league level right now than he does of tearing the cover off the ball with Somerset.

Based on the way minor-league pitchers are treating him, it's no wonder that, at first glance, it appears his development has stalled.

After a successful cameo in the Double-A postseason last year, Dominguez struggled in the Arizona Fall League against advanced arms, suffering from a combination of fatigue and dazzling breaking balls. This spring, he proved he has what it takes to hit big-league pitching, slamming four homers and hitting .455 in 22 at-bats.

And, no, not all 22 at-bats came against minor-league "scrubs" looking to open big-league eyes. He homered off Phillies reliever Connor Brogdon, fresh off a postseason run -- and, besides, you don't hit .455 by accident. These weren't local steelworkers. They were men who are paid to pitch.

Unfortunately, that spring performance appears to have scared most of those men off. So far, at Double-A Somerset, Dominguez is getting absolutely nothing to hit, leaving him with a somewhat absurd stat line and facing a challenge unlike anything he'd be likely to encounter in MLB. If he were promoted -- at least, to Triple-A -- odds are pitchers would no longer be skirting him like he was the plague, harming his development in the process.

When Dominguez gets a pitch to hit, he's still hitting it hard. However, it's getting tougher for the budding star not to expand the zone, as he continues curating a bizarre stat line that recently featured a remarkably low average (.169), a stunning OBP (.381), and impressive speed (11 stolen bags already). He's since managed to get things up to .200 temporarily, but ... still.

Yankees star Jasson Dominguez deserves real challenge above Double-A

As Dominguez told The Athletic this week, his reputation has preceded him, and it's been difficult for him to stay focused on attacking pitches in the zone when he's seeing so few of them.

"(I) can see the pitcher is trying to be really careful when (I’m) taking (my) at-bat.

With the strike zone I feel comfortable. The only part that I’m missing are pitches there in the strike zone. I know that I’m not chasing pitches so that’s why I’m getting a lot of walks. I’m controlling the pitches in the strike zone."

Jasson Dominguez, The Athletic

Dominguez's Double-A manager, Raul Dominguez, has taken extra care with his prized pupil, asking around to other coaches to ensure The Martian isn't being brought down by his low batting average and lack of opportunities to make an impact. According to everyone involved, the 20-year-old has maintained the right attitude, knowing he can impact the game in plenty of other ways.

But the fact remains that Dominguez would probably be performing better at a higher level where pitchers were unafraid to challenge him. It would be counterintuitive to bring him directly to the bigs without a resumé to back up that jump, but the switch-hitting slugger would very much benefit from being under the radar in a lineup packed with All-Stars, rather than being the meteor to which all things are drawn down at Double-A.

Hopefully, Austin Wells' presence in the lineup helps Dominguez somewhat. It's great that he's honing his patience, but he objectively deserves more pitches to hit.