Two of the most hyped prospects in recent memory, OF Jasson Domínguez and C Austin Wells (#2 and #8 respectively, via MLB Pipeline), are expected to make their Major League debuts tomorrow at Minute Maid Park with the Yankees.
Both made their professional debuts in 2021, nearly two months apart from each other, although they did not have the same trajectory to the Majors.
Austin Wells was signed in 2020 as a 1st rounder out of Arizona for $2.5 million. The Las Vegas-area native played as catcher for four years with baseball powerhouse Bishop Gorman HS, followed by a year and change (the latter a result of the COVID season) with Arizona. With Arizona, he was named the PAC-12 Freshman of the Year in 2019, the first Wildcat to earn the award.
Wells made his pro debut with Single-A Tampa on May 4, 2021, which is where he and Anthony Volpe first became teammates. Wells went 2-for-4 in that first game, with a double, a HR and a walk, driving in 3 RBI while striking out twice. He ended the 5-game series going 5-for-12, with 3 doubles, a HR, 6 BB and 5 RBI.
Wells was promoted to High-A Hudson Valley on August 2, 2021, a little over a month after Anthony Volpe had been sent to Wappingers Falls. Wells’ time with Tampa ended with a slash of .258/.398/.479/.877 with 54 RBI in 65 games, while he ended the season with HV hitting .274/.376/.473/.849 with 22 RBI in 28 games. After the season, Wells joined other selected Yankee prospects in Arizona for the Arizona Fall League (AFL), later being named to the Fall Stars team.
Wells started the 2022 season again in Hudson Valley where he hit .323/.429/.576/1.005 before landing on the injured list to a groin injury. After a 9-game rehab stint with Tampa, he was promoted to Double-A Somerset, joining the team just after the 4th of July.
— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) September 15, 2022
Wells began the 2023 season on the IL with a broken rib in the middle of Spring Training while auditioning for a Major League spot, making his regular season debut with Tampa in late April. He would later get returned to Somerset before getting promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It was reported on August 30 that he and Dominguez would be getting promoted to the Majors together.
Austin Wells follows a walk by Jasson Domínguez with a hustle double. That’s Wells’ 10th double at Triple-A. pic.twitter.com/8n9JujXCxv
— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) August 26, 2023
Wells batted .240/.333/.442/.775 during the 2023 Minor League season, with 72 RBI and 17 HR. There’s some concern with his plate discipline with a 26% strikeout rate, but he does work walks at a decent rate of 11%.
While Wells has a potent lefty bat, his defense behind the plate is not quite Major League caliber yet, but it’s likely the Yankees know what they’re getting themselves into. It was a concern early on, and he has made significant improvements since his time in Tampa in 2021. The Yankees floated the idea of converting him to play another position on the field during Spring Training 2022, but it appears that that was just that and he’s stuck as catcher and DH throughout his pro career to date. A lot of that concern was with his pop time, which is considered to be a well-below-average (40) grade arm. Between that and his below-average (45) grade defense, it makes sense in the long run for the Yankees to make Wells a DH given the depth of catchers in the system, especially considering the incredible performance that Ben Rice has been putting up in Wells’ shadows in Somerset.
Jasson Domínguez had early outlandish comps to Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle, even before he had made his professional debut, signing for a record $5.1 million in 2019. They still continue to this day to an extent, but not nearly as much as what was seen previously.
Domínguez made his professional debut on June 28, 2021 with the FCL Yankees in Lakeland, playing only 3 games before he was sent to the All-Star Futures Game. Domínguez would record his first professional hit upon returning from that trip. He would last only 7 games in the Complex League before getting promoted to Single-A Tampa in the bulk of transactions that moved Anthony Volpe to Hudson Valley. Dominguez would spend 49 games there, ending the season with a .252/.353/.379/.732 slash, 9 doubles, a triple, 5 homers and 19 RBI.
Domínguez began the 2022 season in Tampa, spending most of the season there, getting promoted to High-A Hudson Valley a little over a year after he was promoted to Tampa in what would become a viral video within baseball circles.
Earlier this week, Jasson Domínguez delivered the news to @Grantr_1 that he was being promoted to @HVRenegades… Little did @gonjass7 know, he would be joining him up north! 👏 pic.twitter.com/beab8qRVlP
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) July 16, 2022
He would only spend 40 games in High-A before getting promoted to Double-A Somerset for the final set of games of the season. Domínguez batted .275/.375/.461/.836 in 2022, with 23 doubles, 7 triples, 16 homeruns and 59 RBI. This performance would later get him named to the AFL, joining the Mesa Solar Sox with a few other Yankee prospects, while, like Wells, being named later in the AFL season to the Fall Stars team.
Jasson Domínguez is FAST! 💨💨💨
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) August 10, 2022
Domínguez spent the bulk of the 2023 campaign with Somerset, having only recently been promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struggled early in the season, batting close to the Mendoza Line, but had a lightning hot second-half with Somerset (note stats in tweet below) which led to a long-awaited promotion to AAA. With the Yankees having placed CF Harrison Bader on waivers and who has since been sent to the Cincinnati Reds, a roster spot opens up for The Martian. He was originally projected to debut in 2024/2025, so this is significantly earlier than was originally planned.
FOUR straight multi-hit games for #Yankees top prospect Jasson Dominguez👽
The Martian in July🔥:
.377/.462/.531, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 SB pic.twitter.com/UhbqzFZGvC
— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) July 19, 2023
A concern that’s been prominent throughout his professional career, Domínguez is still striking out at the plate at too high of a rate, with 29% of at-bats resulting in a strikeout. Domínguez is a solid defender though, having made significant improvement in routes run in the outfield. He isn’t Usain Bolt though, and the above-average (55) run grade that is listed by Pipeline is a fair assessment. But at the same time, I think they’re somewhat undervaluing the power he can output. They also give him an above-average grade for power and I think while it’s mostly fair, it’s a fringe grade and can be a plus grade as well (55/60).
Out of this world 👽 pic.twitter.com/x7xN3n9RvY
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 9, 2023
The Yankees wouldn’t necessarily promote prospects if they didn’t think they could handle the Majors if they weren’t just going up for a cup of coffee to cover an injury. That’s not the case; what’s injured now is the team itself. Cashman was quoted in saying the kids were going to play a lot, so they’ll get some time without nearly as much pressure to work out some growing pains.
Just like Volpe learned some from Wells earlier in the year with the now very well known “chicken parm dinner”, I’m sure Volpe will help Wells get accustomed to the Majors just like a veteran like Gleyber or former minor league teammate Everson Pereira would help Domínguez figure things out.
Don’t expect both of them to hit .500 in the handful of games left. That would be unreasonable. It would be fair to expect some struggles like we’re seeing out of Pereira. Pereira has good talent, although he’s currently batting .114. Fans wanted Volpe sent down earlier in the season because of early offensive struggles, when today he became the first rookie to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases, and the first rookie since Bobby Witt Jr. did it last year.