One of the most challenging parts of player development in Major League Baseball is nurturing young pitching from the international free-agent market. While most pitchers go through a typical development cycle during their teenage years in the United States, players who grow up overseas don’t always follow a standard script to learn the game of baseball. That makes the ability to uncover hidden gems in the international free agent waters and develop them into capable big league pitchers an important job to sustaining an organization’s farm system. One of the most intriguing arms to fit this category for the New York Mets is right-hander Robert Dominguez, who is the focus of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.
Dominguez broke the mold of most international signees by not inking a contract with a big-league organization when he was first eligible to sign. The New York Mets first signed Dominguez in 2019 after he opted to move from his native Venezuela to the Dominican Republic in an effort to add more velocity to his fastball. The coronavirus pandemic scuttled the 2020 minor league campaign, adding another developmental hurdle to Dominguez’s path, but he did manage to get some work in at the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie last summer.
There is a lot to like with Dominguez, a 6-foot-5 righty with a fastball that can touch 99 miles per hour. The Mets also love Dominguez’s slider, which has an above-average break and the potential to be an out pitch against big league hitters. Dominguez also has a changeup in his arsenal that needs some refinement in order to boost his odds of cracking the major leagues as a starting pitcher.
The important part of 2021 for Dominguez is that the Mets finally got him stateside, assigning him to spend the season in the Florida Complex League, the lowest level on the minor-league ladder. The results haven’t been stellar for Dominguez, who is 1-1 with a save and an 8.25 ERA in 10 appearances, including one start, but the important thing here is that Dominguez is finally seeing game action against other prospects.
The 19-year old Dominguez still has a long way to go in his development and won’t be a factor for the Mets for at least three years. Expect to see the Mets bump Dominguez up to Low-A St. Lucie to start next season, where he should benefit from additional experience against advanced competition. The ultimate path to the majors for Dominguez will depend heavily on how his command develops, especially of his offspeed offerings. The plus fastball does offer a floor of relief work for Dominguez but there is nice starter upside if he develops his secondary pitches and can locate them effectively in the coming years.
View the original article on Metstradamus: Minor League Mondays: Robert Dominguez is a pitching prospect to watch for the New York Mets