The Yankees are calling up outfield prospect Jasson Domínguez, reports Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Catching prospect Austin Wells will be promoted as well, per Greg Joyce and Joel Sherman of The New York Post. Both looming promotions were reported on earlier today. Neither player is on the 40-man roster but the Yanks already opened a couple of spots by releasing Josh Donaldson and Spencer Howard. Active rosters expand from 26 to 28 on Friday.
Domínguez, 20, was a much-hyped prospect even before joining the affiliated ranks, signing for a huge $5.1MM bonus in 2019 that accounted for the vast majority of the Yankees’ bonus pool that year. “The Martian” has since climbed the ranks of the minor leagues, showcasing the potential to be an all-around contributor.
After some tepid results in 2021, the switch-hitter went through three different levels last year, going from Single-A to High-A and Double-A. In 120 total games, he hit 16 home runs and stole 20 bases. He struck out in 24.2% of his plate appearances but also walked at a 13.6% rate. His .273/.375/.461 batting line amounted to a wRC+ of 135, indicating he was 35% above average. This year, he hit .254/.367/.414 in 109 Double-A games for a 117 wRC+. His 25.6% strikeout rate is on the high side but he’s also walked at a 15.2% clip and stolen 37 bases. He was recently promoted to Triple-A and mashed in eight games there.
Defensively, Domínguez is a center fielder, though there’s much debate among prospect evaluators as to whether he’s a long-term fit there. Even if he has to move to a corner, he’s considered to have the arm strength necessary to be viable in right, though that would put more pressure on his bat than if he were to stick in center. Domínguez is currently ranked the #60 prospect in the league at Baseball America, #34 at FanGraphs, #78 at MLB Pipeline, #16 at ESPN and got the #27 spot from Keith Law of The Athletic.
Wells, 24, was a first-round pick of the Yanks in 2020, getting selected 28th overall. He’s considered a bat-first catcher, hitting left-handed, though many evaluators think he’s elevated his defensive reputation as he’s approached the majors.
He’s played in 95 games this year across three different minor league levels, hitting 17 home runs in that time and walking in 11.1% of his plate appearances. His combined slash of .243/.335/.447 amounts to a wRC+ of 105 and he also stole seven bases. BA considers him the #81 prospect in the league. He didn’t crack any of the other four aforementioned lists, though ESPN lists him as a “late cut” on their midseason update, which was capped at 50 names.
The Yankees are 64-68 and 11 games out of a playoff spot with just over a month left on the schedule. They have clearly shifted from contention mode, placing outfielder Harrison Bader on waivers this week, willing to essentially give him away for cost savings. They will use what is left of the season to evaluate some of their younger players, having recently promoted Everson Pereira and and Oswald Peraza, with Domínguez and Wells now joining them.
Assuming Bader is claimed off waivers tomorrow, it’s possible Domínguez gets to finish the year as the club’s regular center fielder, with the Yanks taking that time to evaluate him before deciding how to proceed this winter. Behind the plate, Jose Trevino is out for the season due to wrist surgery. The club has been using Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt as their catching duo lately but Wells will presumably take some of their playing time the rest of the way.
Neither player will have enough time to exhaust their rookie eligibility here in 2023, meaning they will still be rookies in 2024. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the prospect promotion incentive can potentially provide extra draft picks to clubs who promote top prospects for an entire year of service time. To qualify, a player must be on two of the Top 100 lists at BA, ESPN and MLB Pipeline in the preceding offseason and then earn a full year of service time as a rookie. If they win Rookie of the Year or finish in the top three in MVP voting during pre-arbitration seasons, the parent club earns an extra draft pick in the following season just after the first round. Wells may or may not be in that camp, depending on how the offseason lists shake out, but Domínguez seems like a lock to have PPI status next year.
Though it’s undoubtedly been a disappointing season in the Bronx, fans will be able get a glimpse at some things to be excited about for future seasons, as they watch some players who could perhaps help the Yankees in future seasons.
More to come.