Invasion of The Martian

Player development in baseball is a very hard game to predict. Prospects usually begin their relationships with major league clubs around 15 or 16 years old, but it’s not always easy to figure out whether they’ll be successful at a higher level. But every once in a while, maybe four or five times a generation, a prospect emerges and leaves zero doubt that he’ll be nothing short of a star. Yesterday, the New York Yankees grabbed the diamond in the rough when they signed 16-year-old Jasson Dominguez, a switch-hitting Dominican prospect, for a whopping $5.1 million.

Let’s first put the money into perspective. MLB teams are allowed to spend a maximum of $5.67 million per season on new international prospects. What this means is that the Yankees value Dominguez highly enough to dedicate 90% of that pool money to one guy! He must be a special player, but how special is he?

A few scouts who’ve seen Dominguez in the past few months have been asked, “How good is this kid?” Their immediate response? “He’s like Mike Trout was at his age. But better.” That is a scary thing to think about. For reference, Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels, who’s only been in the MLB for eight years including this season, is already a surefire Hall of Famer, having won the AL MVP in two of those seasons, and finishing in the Top 3 of voting in each of the other five seasons. Simply put, he’s considered the best player since Mickey Mantle. That’s high praise, but his statistics measure up almost perfectly to Mantle’s at this stage of his career.

So what does this mean for Jasson Dominguez? To put it in the words of scouts who’ve seen him, he could be BETTER than Mike Trout. Which would make him better than Mickey Mantle. Which could conceivably make him better than any batter that has played in the majors since World War II.

Obviously, these are lofty expectations, ones that seem unfair to put on the shoulders of a 16-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic. But if the rumors are true, we could, in a couple years’ time, see the emergence of the next in a long line of great players for baseball’s most prestigious franchise.

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