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MLB: A Look at the Two Newest Yankees: Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells

 Leif Skodnick  |    Sep 1st, 2023 3:02pm EDT

Jasson Domínguez of the New York Yankees smiles during Spring Training at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 23, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

The New York Yankees are calling up outfielder Jasson Dominguez, 20 and catcher Austin Wells, 24 from their Triple-A affiliate the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

They will be activated on September 1 when the MLB rosters expand to 28 players on the road against the Houston Astros. Hector Gomez, a reporter for radio station Z101, first broke the news about Dominguez on August 30 on his Twitter account.

New York Post columnist Joel Sherman and reporter Greg Joyce broke the news regarding Wells a few minutes later.

Before the call-up to the Yankees, the switch-hitting Dominguez talked about what it meant for him to be called up to Triple-A and be on the doorstep of MLB.

“It’s exciting and it’s an honor to be here, but I’m trying to not think of that like you are so close you should be there whatever. I’m just focusing on the present and right now I’m here,” Dominguez said following a Triple-A game with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on August 27.

Dominguez is the Yankees second-ranked prospect on MLB pipeline and 80th in MLB’s top 100 prospects. Dominguez got called up to MLB after just nine games with the RailRiders. He played his first series against the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A affiliate the Lehigh Valley IronPigs last week, and had a .478 batting average going 11-for-23 with an OPS of 1.208. He also had 10 RBI, five doubles, one triple, and a stolen base in this span. 

On August 27 he was two-for-five with a triple, single, and one RBI in a 6-4 win. After the game RailRiders Manager Shelly Duncan spoke about Dominguez’s performance in his first week at Triple-A.

“I think that one was heard not just in Scranton, but in New York,” Duncan said. “It was a lot of fun to watch him and there’s a reason why he’s as highly touted as he is.” 

Duncan has been in the game for a long time, and he’s seen the competition at the highest level as well as the minors. Duncan talked about how Dominguez gave him that wow factor. He also referred to Dominguez’s energy as infectious and praised his outfield defense and base running.

He has played 63 games in center field and 37 games in left field this season with eight games as the designated hitter. He’s thrown out five runners and made three errors this season. He’s thrown out 13 runners in his career and has made 11 errors. His fielding percentage is .986 this year and is .975 for his career. 

In regard to his offense, Dominguez talked about how he was able to adapt to Triple-A pitching after the game on August 27. 

“I just came with the same plan at the end of the day, baseball is just baseball,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez did talk about the difference between Triple-A pitcher’s being more intelligent and having a better plan than Double-A pitchers.

Dominguez was called up from the Yankees Double-A affiliate the Somerset Patriots to the RailRiders on August 22. Dominguez was named Eastern League Player of the Week the day before his call-up to Triple-A on August 21. 

Domiungue had a .464 batting average, two home runs, and five RBI from August 14-20.

Dominguez started this season with the Somerset Patriots after playing two weeks there in the last month of the 2022 season. 

This season his offensive numbers are 15 home runs, 76 RBI, 40 stolen bases with an .802 OPS in 456 at-bats with the Patriots and RailRiders.

“The one thing I took from Somerset is that you have to have a plan before every at-bat and stick to the plan. So I make a plan before I step in the box and then just do that,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez had a tough time to start this season in Somerset. On May 23 he had a .197 batting average. Patriots hitting coach Jake Hirst talked with reporter Greg Johnson of the Trentonain about it.

“It’s not that we don’t care that you’re hitting. 150,” Hirst said. “It’s like maybe it’s a loud .150 or maybe you’re Dominguez and you’re still leading the lead in walks. So I think it’s more process-oriented than that.”

Dominguez has remained patient all year with 83 walks and a .377 OPB which is more than 100 points higher than his batting average of .265. His 77 walks in Double-A are still the most in the Eastern League this season. 

Hirst believes in not looking at a few bad games if there isn’t a reason to be worried about the overall performance of the hitter. Last season, he was hired by the Patriots and helped them win the Eastern League championship. Dominguez was also a huge part of the championship, hitting three home runs with 10 RBI in the playoffs. The Patriots set a team record in 2022 with 205 home runs and hit for a .779 OPS.

In 2022, Dominguez started his season with the Yankees Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, and was called up to Hudson Valley on July 13, 2022. Dominguez was promoted to Somerset on September 13, 2022. 

Last season, Dominguez had 16 homers, 59 RBI, and 37 stolen bases with an OPS of .836 between all three levels.

Dominguez was signed in 2019 in the Yankees international signing class out of the Dominican Republic. The $5.4 million contract he received was a record at the time.

Dominguez’s career minor league stats from 2021-23 are 36 home runs, 154 RBI, and 86 stolen bases with an OPS of .803 in 1,113 at-bats.

The Yankees waiving outfielder Harrison Bader on August 29 paved the way for Dominguez. Bader was claimed by the Cincinnati Reds on August 31 per ESPN reporter Jeff Passan.

Bader spent time with Dominguez during this past Spring Training and in three rehab stints with the Patriots. Bader talked about his time with Dominguez before a rehab assignment on April 21, 2023.

“From Bader, I learned a few things in the outfield, how to get behind the ball and get to the ball quickly. I watched his routine so I could replicate it,” Dominguez said on April 21 in Somerset.

“He’s incredible, and I’m not surprised he got 11 hits in the series. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got 20 hits, he can do anything on the field,” Austin Wells said about Dominguez on August 27.

The lefty hitting Wells has been teammates with Dominguez for the majority of this season with the RailRiders and Patriots. They’ve also spent the end of last season in Somerset together.

Wells also had a big game on August 27, hitting an opposite-field two-run home run against Lehigh Valley IronPigs pitcher Jeremy Walker on a high and outside fastball. It was Wells’ fifth Triple-A home run and put the RailRiders’ first runs on the board. It gave them a 2-1 lead in the sixth and they wouldn’t look back. 

Wells caught RailRiders starting pitcher Clayton Beeter, and Beeter had his best start the season on August 27. Duncan thought that Wells did a good job of keeping Beeter aggressive in attacking the hitters and keeping him ahead in the count.

He didn’t have any chances to throw runners out, but Wells helped guide Beeter through 5.2 innings of one-run ball with two hits allowed and five strikeouts.

“Today was his best day behind the plate. He called an amazing game,” Duncan said. “He was absolutely tremendous today on both sides of it.” 

Duncan has been working with Wells to improve every day and believes he has what it takes to be a good big leaguer long-term.

“When that day comes, and they do call him up, hopefully he can make an impact from day one,” Duncan said.

Wells will now get to join more of his minor league teammates with the Yankees, since outfielder Everson Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza were called up on August 22.

“Those are guys I’ve played with the last couple of years. It feels like I should be up there playing with them,” Wells said.

He was also excited for them and happy to see them having fun at the next level.

Wells didn’t let the news of their promotions bother him. He used his off day on August 22 to focus on the week’s upcoming pitchers per RailRiders hitting coach Trevor Amicone in an article with New York Daily News reporter Gary Phillips.

“Been working really hard in the cage with the hitting coach here really trying to dial in an approach on what these pitchers are trying to do against me. We’ve had some success and I think it’s been a good adjustment period getting up here,” Wells said.

There were also reports from Phillips on August 26 on the Yankees wanting Wells to get some looks at first base. Wells said the team didn’t come to him with that request as of August 27.

“I’m still going to work on catching and be the best that I can. but if that’s something they want me to do I’m open to that. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win,” Wells said.

Wells has made 11 errors behind the plate with three passed balls and has caught 13 percent of runners stealing. The biggest improvement he needs to make behind the plate is to increase his percentage of thrown-out runners. He cut his passed balls down significantly over the past few seasons. In 2021 he had 16 passed balls, last season he had four and this year he has five.

Wells’ offensive stats this season are 17 home runs, 72 RBI, seven stolen bases, and an OPS of .775 in 371 at-bats. In Triple-A he has five home runs, 20 RBI, and an OPS of .802 in 126 at-bats.

Wells talked more about the adjustment of facing Triple-A pitching, coming from Somerset.

“The more that I can stick to my strengths and try to line it up against the pitcher’s strengths, I think that’s a win and stuff I’ve been working on since being in Somerset.”

Wells was called up from Somerset to Scranton on July 21, 2023, after a 9-2 win against the Hartford Yard Goats on the road. Patriots’ manager Raul Dominguez talked about his call-up in a media session on July 25.

“That was exciting, we won the game in Hartford. We just tried to make a joke to make it seem like we were mad, then at the end we just told Wells he was going to Scranton. I called Shelly Duncan to let him know what he’s been doing here,” Somerset manager Raul Dominguez said.

This season Wells hit 11 home runs and 50 RBI with an OPS of .770 in 228 at-bats with the Patriots. Wells didn’t start this season with the Patriots until May 2 due to a fractured rib in Spring Training.

Wells played 55 games with Somerset last season hitting 12 home runs with an OPS of .839. He started his 2022 season in Hudson Valley before dealing with a groin injury on May 17, 2022. He returned to rehab with the Tampa Tarpons on June 25, 2022. After nine games he got called up to Somerset for the first time on July 5, 2022.

Wells has played three minor league seasons from 2021-2023. His stats are 53 home runs, 213 RBI with an OPS of .846 in 1,089 at-bats. He’s also stolen 39 bases and has only been thrown out once.

“I have some sneaky wheels and pick the right time to go,” Wells said on July 6 at Somerset Patriots media day.

Wells was drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of 2018 MLB Draft but decided to go through with his commitment to the University of Arizona. 

In 2020 the Yankees pulled the trigger on Wells again. This time with the 28th pick in the first round.

The Yankees are currently 10 games out of the last wild card spot in the American League. They will play the Houston Astros on the road at Minute Maid Park at 7:10 p.m. EST on September 1.

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Leif Skodnick