MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 27: Matt Dominguez #54 of the Florida Marlins is congratulated after scoring during a game against the Washington Nationals at Sun Life Stadium on September 27, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Yesterday, MLB.com released its Top 100 prospects list. Despite the lack of depth of the Marlins' system, the team did end up with two players in the top 100 prospects in baseball. Unsurprisingly, Christian Yelich tops the list among Marlins, coming in at 35th on the list. Surprisingly, Matt Dominguez still found his way on the list, coming in at 87th.
As has been pointed out both at SB Nation's Minor League Ball and our very own site by our prospect expert Eric Weston, Yelich stands a (small) league ahead of the four players at the level of Dominguez in the organization. Let's see how Jonathan Mayo and the rest of the MLB.com crew evaluated Yelich and Dominguez and compare that to how Eric W. and I see them.
Here is a tad of what was said about Yelich by MLB.com.
Upside potential: A No. 3-type hitter who competes for batting titles while also driving in runs and stealing bases, like a John Olerud with speed.
What did Eric W. see in Yelich?
Yelich makes hitting look easy with his smooth left-handed swing and disciplined plate approach. Unlike some other tall left-handed batters, Yelich is able to combat the inside fastball due to his quick hands and plus bat speed. His swing won’t enable him to generate enormous power, although he did manage to put up a decent .171 ISO last year.
Most of what has been said about Yelich is in agreement. I have heard him consistently described as a natural hitter with an excellent swing. He also is a good baserunner with enough speed and athleticism that the team moved him to center field despite his awkward throwing mechanism and his first baseman size. Eric W. mentioned some concern about his platoon splits, but Yelich otherwise seems like an excellent player who should be on his way to the majors in the next two or three seasons.Yelich's placement in the top 100 list is not surprising either. He sits above well-touted players like Arodys VIzcaino and Anthony Rizzo and below players like Billy Hamilton and Brett Jackson, so his talent is high enough that he is expected to be a major league contributor and potential All-Star. Of course, he still needs to impress in his second full professional year, but the Marlins' latest prep position player pickup looks like he will pan out in a way that some of the others have not.
The example of a prep player that the Marlins drafted early and did not "pan out" is Dominguez. The Fish have made the move to put Hanley Ramirez at third base for the foreseeable future, so Dominguez at the moment has no path to the majors. Of course, given what a lot of people have said about him, he may not have had much of a path to begin with.
However, MLB.com ranked him as the 87th best prospect in baseball and had this to say about his upside
Upside potential: Still only 23, there’s still time for Dominguez to figure things out at the plate and become a very productive, Gold Glove-winning, everyday third baseman in the bigs.
In comparison, here is what Eric Weston said about him.
But I believe Dominguez will benefit from another season in the minor leagues. He is still very young and has plenty of time to grow as a hitter. Even if he never bats for league average, Dominguez’s stellar glove will ensure he is a valuable contributor at the major league level.
There is a reason why people like the folks at MLB.com and Eric W. are wary of dropping Dominguez. While so much is uncertain about his ability at the plate, his glove is so major-league ready that and potentially strong that the worst he ever ends up being is a journeyman with Gold Glove capabilities. Most players have floors that involve them never playing in major league games, but because Dominguez's defense is so great, it is almost certain he will make it to the big leagues in some capacity just for his defense. And if his glove is in fact as good as advertised, teams can and will be willing to accept lesser offensive contributions from him because he can save so many runs on the other side of the field. In a sense, Dominguez's floor is high enough that he can still be justified as a legitimate prospect despite all of his offensive struggles.
Just because the Marlins have a third baseman of the present does not mean they have a third baseman of the future. In an idea world, Hanley Ramirez pans out at third base, the Marlins stick with him for the long haul, and we have a franchise player who can man the hot corner for another six seasons. Realistically, Ramirez's current extension expires after 2014 and the club may need to find a replacement at that time. You know how old Dominguez will be at that point? Twenty-five years old, or a year younger than Gaby Sanchez when he made his full-time debut. So the Marlins have time on their side with regards to Dominguez; if he can develop, the Fish could keep him for the future or trade him. If he does not do it in 2012, it is still acceptable, since he only has be ready by age 25.