Matt Dominguez has yet to play an inning of major league baseball and already the Marlins need him to stop a streak. For the last two seasons the Marlins have gone into spring training expecting a hot prospect to break camp with the team. In 2009 Gaby Sanchez was penciled in to start at 1st base. Injuries and a lack of hitting made him spend most of the year in Triple-A. One year later Logan Morrison was the favorite to win the 1st base job over Sanchez. He too suffered from a lack of games and production to keep him off the Opening Day Roster. Now Dominguez has the chance to leave Jupiter with the big club.
The scouting report remains the same for the Marlins’ 2007 first round pick. He’s a kid that could win a gold glove immediately, but is strictly a fastball hitter. He’s heading into the spring season where statistics tend to get overblown and a bad week can kill you stat line for the whole month. The Marlins aren’t looking for Matt to hit .400 in the grape fruit league, he just can’t look overmatched. He also has some benefits that Morrison and Sanchez did not have. Dominguez is not going to be looked at as a run producer on this team. He’s here to bring his stellar defense to help out a club the 5th most errors in baseball last season. Even with his bat remaining a question, Dominguez can make himself an asset by helping out Hanley Ramirez on the left side of the infield. The other factor in Matt’s favor is Marlins don’t have a solid insurance plan if he can’t produce this March.
If he tanks in the upcoming spring season, perhaps the Fish would move Omar Infante at 3rd base and have Emilio Bonifacio at 2nd. But the Marlins have to ask themselves if it’s better to have Bonifacio play every day or deal with the Dominguez learning at the big league level. Bonifacio has shown that he’s better served as a role player, while Dominguez is potentially a main stay in your lineup for years to come. At its core having Dominguez bat 8th every day, while helping your team’s defense seems more important than plugging in Bonifacio at 2nd base as a band aid. The risk of a slow offensive season shouldn’t shatter his confidence if you continue to show faith that he can develop. Many like to compare Dominguez to former Orioles 3rd baseman, Brooks Robinson. In Robinson’s first full season he hit .238 and committed 21 errors, before developing into a Hall of Fame player. The Orioles had the patience to deal with his early struggles before reaping the rewards. Having patience throughout Matt’s rookie campaign will be better for the franchise in the long run.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Tobin
Life long Marlins fan who's had the privilege of covering the team the last 2 seasons for Sports Talk 790 The Ticket in Miami, FL.