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Blue Jays forgotten depth pieces: Matt Dominguez

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The Blue Jays’ September waiver claim of third baseman Matt Dominguez didn’t make any headlines, but he should have organizational value in AAA Buffalo

Players like Matt Dominguez are caught in the void of Major League organizations. Lacking the youth and potential ceiling to be considered a prospect, though not yet old, and not a threat to contribute to the big club. We make the mistake of not giving any love to these players, though, which is wrong. Dominguez could prove to be a valuable everyday player for the AAA Bisons with the right adjustments.

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Dominguez was selected with the 12th Overall pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft by the Marlins, just after Madison Bumgarner and just ahead of Jason Heyward. He ranked as the number 64 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America after the 2008 season, and by 2010, he was the number one prospect in the Marlins system. In July of 2012, he’d be traded along with old friend Rob Rasmussen to Houston for Carlos Lee.

In his first full season at the MLB level in 2013, Dominguez debuted as a flawed yet tantalizing hitter. Then 23 years old, Dominguez belted 21 home runs and 77 RBI, but with just 30 walks in 589 plate appearances, that power was extremely empty.

Appearing in 157 games the following season, Dominguez would keep his moderate power afloat with 16 home runs, but with a K:BB ratio higher than 4:1, he posted an ugly -2.2 WAR (!). How Dominguez managed to stay employed that season, let alone a member of the Astros lineup on a nightly basis, is something you may need formal training to understand.

Thankfully, the Blue Jays don’t need 1.57 games from Dominguez, let alone 157. Perhaps similarly to a player like outfielder Junior Lake, who will hopefully be able to join him with the Bisons, Dominguez represents a great piece of Minor League filler that is one tool away from catching on as an MLB-calibre piece. Granted, this plate discipline tool needs to be built from the ground up, but under manager Gary Allenson and AAA hitting coach Richie Hebner, there’s plenty of time to tinker.

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Reading past scouting reports is a fools game when it comes to Major League Baseball, but as a prospect, the sky was the limit for Dominguez. From his “upside potential” category in a 2008 prospect profile at MLB.com: “All-Star-caliber third baseman who is a run-producer and Gold Glover; a Scott Rolen type.” Fond memories those are!

So while that’s out the window, there’s still some talent left between the flaws of Dominguez. While he won’t be re-creating Matt Hague‘s MVP season at the hot corner (watch out for Casey Kotchman), improvements in his approach at the dish could let his power numbers creep back up. He’s not Jose Bautista, nor is he Anthony Alford, but he’s a name that’s gone unfairly forgotten on the 40-man roster.

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