By David Heck, Special to CBS Local Sports
CBS Local Sports will be profiling one young player from each Major League Baseball team every day for the next 30 days as part of our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature.
Matt Dominguez, Third Baseman, Houston Astros
2012 season: 31 G, 109 AB, .284 BA, 5 HR, 16 RBI, .787 OPS
For a while, Matt Dominguez was the best prospect in the Miami Marlins’ system. That spoke to two things: One was Domginuez’s talent, but the other was the lack of prospect depth in the Marlins’ organization. Dominguez had (and still has upside), but he wasn’t really the kind of player that you’d find atop a club’s prospect chart. That partially explains why the Marlins were willing to trade him to the Astros last year for Carlos Lee – a player who represented a quick fix for a team that needed much more than that.
The trade was good for Dominguez, though, as it finally bought him a spot on a big league roster. Known primarily for his glove at the hot corner, Dominguez surprised with his bat by posting a .284 average with five longballs in 31 games for Houston. He seemed the be invigorated by the trade in general – after hitting just .234 with a .647 OPS in 78 games for the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate, he batted a much-improved .298 with a .744 OPS in 45 games with the Astros’ affiliate before his call-up.
A first-round draft pick back in 2007, Dominguez is a veteran of professional baseball but is still very young. He’s only 23 years old, which means there’s still time for him to develop further. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep his average around a respectable number; in 593 minor league games, he only managed a .256 mark, which doesn’t bode well for his chances. He’s also only got middling power – his career high for homers is 18, which he set in A-ball back in 2008, and he only collected 14 last year. Further limiting his offensive game is his batting eye, as his minor league on-base percentage is only .323.
So what does Dominguez bring to the table? He was long regarded as the best defensive third baseman in the minors, and he should rise to the top of the Major League crop without much issue. He’s probably never going to provide the offense of an elite third baseman, but he can still be useful. If he ever got to the point where he could hit 20 home runs with an on-base percentage around .350 – certainly not an unreasonable task – then he would be a well above-average Major Leaguer. That might not sound like much, but for an Astros team that doesn’t have a lot going for it, Dominguez could be one of their bright spots.
Next up on March 16: New York Mets