Can the Martian Help at this point in the Season?
This Yankees season has been a complete dumpster fire. New lows have been reached routinely, and a year after reaching the ALCS with hopes of getting a step further, the team has fallen entirely out of the playoff chase. They suffered a 9-game losing streak, went weeks without winning a series, and after a crushing 10-inning loss in Detroit, they were sitting at a record of 65-69, in grave danger of enduring their first losing season since 1992.
Fans were desperate for a spark, not even to make a run this season, which many of us have known for a long time was off the table, but a source of hope going forward, simply put, a reason to turn on the game. We’ve heard over and over about the great performances being put on by star prospects in the minors, but GM Brian Cashman has always been reluctant to bring the kids up to the top level.
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One particular prospect was more exciting than the rest. That would of course be Dominican supertalent Jasson Dominguez, also known as The Martian, due to his otherworldly combination of size and skill at such a young age. The Yankees signed him back when he was just sixteen years old, using $5.1 million of their $5.4 million international bonus pool. A switch-hitting five-tool centerfielder, he was likened by many to Mickey Mantle, building up some hype that would be hard to live up to.
Then finally, the day after the debacle in Detroit, the Martian landed. After a quick nine games in AAA ball, across which he racked up an OBP over .500, the Yankees high brass decided that it was time for Dominguez to get his shot in the big leagues. There have been rumblings that Cashman still wasn’t ready, and chairman Hal Steinbrenner went over his head to make a franchise-altering move, but we may never know for sure. Catching prospect Austin Wells also came up with Dominguez, after a fairly short AAA stint of his own, just 33 games.
So finally, after four years of anticipation, endless highlights and reports, and a frantic couple of days after the announcement was made, it was officially time. After Giancarlo Stanton worked an impressive two-out walk, Dominguez strode to the plate in Houston of all places, to face the legendary Justin Verlander of all arms. The tension was palpable, with a whole fanbase’s hopes resting upon the shoulders of a 20-year old kid ready to take his first MLB swing against an all-time great.
What happened next was almost too incredible to believe. After taking a first pitch strike, Dominguez, batting lefty as a switch hitter against the right-handed Verlander, lashed out and hit a hard, high line drive to left field which cleared the high wall- with his first MLB swing, he had officially gone deep against one of the best pitchers of all time. It was an impressive opposite-field blast, and a truly frenzied moment in the living rooms of every Yankee fan across the country and World. Truly, the Martian is out of this World.
Wells also recorded a hit in his first at bat, with a beautiful line drive single off of Verlander an inning later- the kids were officially here, and contributed to a huge Yankees win. The next day, Wells recorded his first RBI to tie the ballgame, and fellow youngster Everson Pereira drove in Dominguez for the eventual winning run. In game three, Dominguez went deep again, helping the Yankees secure the sweep, their first against Houston in a decade, and their first against anyone since the Royals in July. Within just one series, the Yankees’ thrilling new prospects had injected life into the season, and had fans legitimately excited to tune in.
On Tuesday, Dominguez played his first game in the Bronx, wearing the iconic Yankee pinstripes for the first time. From the first inning, he looked right at home, soaking in the Bleacher Creatures’ iconic roll call, and playing into his nickname by responding with the “E.T. Phone Home,” pretending to contact wherever he came from, which surely cannot be Earth. As catchers generally rotate, Wells had the day off and will have to wait for his home debut.
Of course, Dominguez gave the fans something to cheer for later in the game, as he knocked a double into the gap for his first hit in Yankee Stadium. So far, his power has been impressive, as has his ability to avoid strikeouts. With so much talent on display already, it’s thrilling to think of what Dominguez, Wells, and all of the rest of the Baby Bombers will accomplish, with infield prospect Trey Sweeney still in the minors, and shortstop Anthony Volpe seemingly finding his footing towards the end of his rookie season.
After his first MLB at bat produced such a surreal moment, it’s fun to look ahead at some more firsts we could see from Dominguez. Most likely soon, he will hit his first home run in Yankee Stadium, and before too long, we’ll get to see his first walk-off, first playoff appearance, and if all goes well, lift the World Series trophy for the first time. This Yankee team making it back to the top in the next couple of seasons might seem far-fetched right now, but so does alien life making contact with humans, let alone playing baseball- after what we’ve seen from The Martian in just a few days, it’s hard not to believe.
This is an article written by Will Schwartz
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