Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez (89) drives the pitch over the...

Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez (89) drives the pitch over the fence for a home run during the spring training game between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies on February 25, 2023 at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Florida.  Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images/Icon Sportswire

CLEARWATER, Fla. — By all accounts, it’s not a matter of if Jasson Dominguez  will make his big-league debut.

It’s a matter of when.

And though a sizable number of Yankees fans would like to see that happen for the hyped centerfield prospect right out of spring training, it isn’t going to take place that quickly.

That doesn't mean he won't leave an impression, though. In his major-league exhibition debut with the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, the switch-hitting 20-year-old homered in his second at-bat in a 7-4 loss to the Phillies at BayCare Ballpark.

Dominguez, who finished last season with Double-A Somerset, where he played five games after a late-season promotion, is all but certain to start his 2023 season there. But putting himself in position to make it to the Bronx by September as a minor-league call-up is not out of the question. Far from it.

“Obviously, one of those guys we’re excited about and his future and his continued development, which has been really good,” Aaron Boone said before Dominguez started in centerfield and batted seventh in the Yankees’ Grapefruit League opener.

Dominguez, who grounded out sharply to first on a 3-and-0 pitch in the second inning and popped to short on a 3-and-1 count in the sixth, showed the power the Yankees have touted in the fifth inning.

Batting righthanded against lefthander Ben Bowden, with what appeared to be a fairly easy swing, Dominguez hit a bomb to left-center on a first-pitch slider that came in straight and belt-high. That tied the score at 2-2.  

“Just excited running the bases, but I wasn’t thinking about anything specifically,” he said through his interpreter of what was going through his mind. “Just excitement.”

Boone felt that as well.

“I mean, he’s talented,” he said. “Got himself into good counts all day long. Controlled the strike zone. Just good, quality at-bats. You can tell the guy has a real understanding and an ease of the strike zone. There’s no panic up there. It was good to see him really get into one.”

Dominguez’s teammates took notice too. “We know he’s a good player,” shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa said.

Gleyber Torres, who doubled in his first at-bat and homered in his second, smiled regarding the Dominguez homer, saying simply: “Amazing.”

Dominguez, given a franchise-record $5.1 million signing bonus at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019 and dubbed “The Martian” not long after because of what some see as his other-worldly skill set, started last season with Class A Tampa. After struggling early, he earned a promotion to High-A Hudson Valley before ending the year with Somerset.

The organization, as well as rival scouts assigned to the Yankees’ minor-league season, noted how he put a slow start with Tampa — 6-for-27 with two doubles, eight strikeouts and a .546 OPS — behind him. Dominguez hit a combined .273 with 16 homers and an .837 OPS between the three levels in 2023.

“You could see the maturity, the way he went about his work, seemed to be a fast learner,” one opposing team talent evaluator said. “A lot of attention around him and he [seemed to] handle it well.”

Said Dominguez: “My career has been progression, especially looking at last season. Where I started and where I ended progressively got better for me. I think it has to do with understanding the game better. Definitely a learning experience overall.”

In his first major league spring training, Dominguez has  impressed club staff and veteran teammates behind the scenes with his work ethic and his ability to walk the fine line between confidently acting as if he belongs but not acting too much like it (Rob Refsnyder and Clint Frazier would be two examples in recent years of touted prospects not walking that line particularly well when it came to the clubhouse).

“Even more than the raw numbers, the underlying things that we saw from him as he went level to level were really encouraging,” Boone said.

And now for spring training, anyway, at the major-league level.

“He seems happy to me, he seems happy to be here. You can tell he likes playing the game,” Boone said. “He likes the game. He likes the things that go with everything around the game. That’s good to see. He’s been a lot of fun and easy to be around.” 

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