Welcome to the Bench: Matt Dominguez

Background
Born: 8/28/1989 (26) Van Nuys, California, US
Drafted: 1st round (12th overall) in 2007 by Florida Marlins
Teams: Florida Marlins (2011), Houston Astros (2012-14)
Positions: Third Base (349 games), DH (5 games)
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 220 lbs
Bat: Right
Throw: Right
Full Baseball Reference Bio

Matt Dominguez
Full Fangraphs Profile

The Call-Up
April 26, 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays call up third baseman Matt Dominguez from Triple A Buffalo. Pitcher Drew Hutchison was optioned to Buffalo to make room.

What he brings to the team

The Toronto Blue Jays organization is starting to become a prospect’s last stop on the unforgiving bus ride that is their MLB career. The Jays’ system is riddled with former top prospects: Jesus Montero (at one point the third ranked prospect in baseball, ranked only behind Mike Trout and Bryce Harper), catcher Tony Sanchez (4th overall pick in 2009), Dominic Brown (once rumoured to be the player the Jays would receive from the Phillies for Jose Bautista) and Justin Smoak (once compared very liberally to one of the greatest switch-hitting first basemen of all-time, Mark Teixera), and now Dominguez. While it isn’t likely that any of these guys will suddenly figure out how to be a good player, there still remains a hint of top-prospect sheen, no matter how faint. For the thousands of Travis Sniders and J.P. Arencibias out there, the Jays are rolling the dice to see if they can uncover another Donaldson, Encarnacion, Bautista type reclamation project.

When he was rising through the minor leagues, Dominguez was touted for his strong arm and powerful bat. According to Baseball Prospectus’ 2009 prospect report, Dominguez’ ceiling was “a healthy, right-handed version of Eric Chavez” (try to remember that peak, healthy Chavez was an awesome baseball player), while at worst “he’ll end up a merely average player”. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but he has fallen well short of both outcomes as his -1.5 career WAR suggests.

While it feels like he has been around forever, Dominguez is only just 26 and still possesses some of the skills that made him the 26th best prospect in Baseball in 2009. So far he has been hitting very well in Buffalo, sporting a triple slash line of .311/.333/.475. The Jays see his ability to play both third and first base as a potential fit to fill the Colabello sized-hole on Toronto’s bench. His positional flexibility made him a more attractive option than Jesus Montero. Dominguez has the ability to give Donaldson a day off on third while Josh continues to deal with nagging injuries. While I’m not getting my expectations up, let’s see what this guy can do.

Why he’s on the bench

Andrew Stoeten of Jays Nation points out an interesting fact regarding the Blue Jays’ history with players from the 2007 draft:

(Dominguez is) also a first round pick in the 2007 draft, adding to a long list of players with Jays connections from that round. If you include supplemental picks it makes Dominguez (7), David Price (1), JP Arencibia (21), Ben Revere (28), Travis d’Arnaud (37), Brett Cecil (38), and Josh Donaldson (48). (The Jays also took Kevin Ahrens (16), Justin Jackson (45), and Trystan Magnuson (56).)

As the Astros everyday third baseman from 2012-14, Dominguez was some kind of brutal. His .650 OPS over 340 games with the Astros is pretty bad in itself, and even worse after you see that it is ballooned by a not entirely crappy .787 OPS from a short 31 game stint in 2012. He didn’t even play an MLB game last season and has developed the lethal label of a “Quad A player” as a player who is too good of a hitter for AAA pitching, but isn’t good enough for MLB pitching. Let’s hope that Dominguez can break out of baseball purgatory unlike JP, Snider, Lawrie, Russ Adams and the myriads of other disappointing prospects.

 

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