In short order, the Yankees are expected to land a potential star shortstop.
But this is one to dream on.
The 2022 international signing period begins Saturday, and the Yankees have been heavily linked to 17-year-old Roderick Arias – a dynamic player from the Dominican Republic.
Arias is currently ranked by MLB Pipeline (MLB.com) as the No. 1 player in this international signing period.
The switch-hitting 6-foot-1, 180-pound Arias, who turns 18 in September, has scouts buzzing about his plus arm and range as a defender, and his elite contact, plate discipline and power potential from both sides as a hitter.
Arias would only add to the Yankees’ promising stockpile of shortstop prospects, led by Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza.
Once the MLB lockout ends, though, they’ll be in pursuit of an experienced shortstop for 2022 – whether it’s a high-end free agent such as Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, or a temporary solution via trade or free agency.
According to Baseball America, the Yankees have $5,179,700 to spend in this international signing period, and most – if not all – of those chips could be earmarked for Arias.
This was the strategy the Yankees employed in 2019, when they signed Jasson Dominguez to a $5.1 million bonus.
At the time, the switch-hitting center fielder was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top player of that international signing period.
After a seven-game pro debut in 2021 at the Yankees’ Florida Complex League, Dominguez slashed .258/.346/.398 at Low-A Tampa, with five homers, 18 RBI and 67 strikeouts in 186 at-bats.
Dominguez turns 19 in February, and there has been no discussion yet about where he might begin the 2022 season, according to Yankees player development director Kevin Reese, whose title was recently elevated to vice president.
It’s possible that Dominguez could begin with High-A Hudson Valley, or start with Low-A Tampa, where Rachel Balkovec was just named as the first female manager in affiliated baseball.
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As an organizational hitting instructor, Balkovec worked with Dominguez at Tampa, and she came away impressed on several levels.
“(He’s) a phenomenal person in the clubhouse, his aptitude is so high. He wants to learn,’’ said Balkovec, adding that Dominguez is currently doing offseason English classes.
In their recent conversations, “we’re not even talking that much about baseball. We’re talking about English classes,’’ said Balkovec, who taught herself Spanish as a hitting coach in the Houston Astros organization, working in the Dominican Republic.
“Everyone knows his baseball talent,’’ but Balkovec sees Dominguez’s leadership qualities, too. “(He’s) a really special person and what he brings to the clubhouse from a character standpoint is phenomenal.’’
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Regardless of where Dominguez begins his 2022 season, he’s bound to be the center of attention.
“Everywhere he goes, he’s turning heads,’’ Reese said. “His ability to connect with people, ability to lead at such a young age, the exit velo, the (bat) speed – it’s all off the charts.
“We just want to get him to play more baseball,’’ Reese said of Dominguez’s game experience. “All of the skill is there. The ability is there.
“And we’re extremely excited about what he’s going to do in ’22.’’
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @pcaldera