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Rachel Balkovec Eager to Spotlight Jasson Dominguez Off the Field

Baseball fans can’t wait to see what The Martian does on the field. But the Yankees’ new Low-A manager is already amazed with what he’s doing behind the scenes.

Fair or not, the spotlight has followed Jasson Dominguez ever since the Dominican prospect signed a $5.1 million contract with the Yankees as a 16-year-old in 2019.

Unreasonable comparisons to Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle were made right away, and The Martian’s every on-field move now makes headlines. Never mind that the center fielder has played a mere 56 professional games, all of which came in 2021. Dominguez hasn’t gotten past Low-A Tampa yet, but he’s already a star and the No. 2 prospect in the Yankees’ system, per MLB.com.

New Tampa Tarpons skipper Rachel Balkovec, who’s dealt with her own media frenzy in recent days after becoming affiliated baseball’s first female manager, understands the hype surrounding Dominguez. She’s already had the chance to work closely with the phenom, and she’s seen his skills in person.

But Balkovec has also seen the person, and she feels Dominguez is just as impressive in that regard.

“He can hit the ball hard. We all know that,” Balkovec said Wednesday at her introductory press conference. “But I think that less people understand the type of person he is. He is a phenomenal person in the clubhouse. His aptitude is so high. He wants to learn.”

While Kevin Reese, newly promoted to vice president of player development for the Yankees, highlighted the farmhand’s “off the charts” exit velos, speed and other measurables on Wednesday, Balkovec kept the focus away from Dominguez the prospect.

She noted that studying English has been an offseason priority for the teenager.

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“Him and I aren’t even talking that much about baseball,” Balkovec said. “We’re talking about English classes so he can be a better person in the clubhouse and be a leader for Latin American and American players in his future.”

It’s unclear where Dominguez will begin the 2022 season after slashing .252/.353/.379 with five home runs, 19 RBI, nine stolen bases, 27 walks and 73 strikeouts over 241 plate appearances split between Rookie and Low-A ball last year. Reese said that such decisions will be made once spring training gets rolling.

“We just want to get him to play more baseball,” Reese said. “All of the skill is there. All of the ability is there, and we’re extremely excited about what he’s going to do in 2022.”

There is a good chance that Dominguez begins the campaign under Balkovec’s watch in Tampa. Should that be the case, she’ll be excited about the player and person she’s coaching.

“Everyone knows his baseball talent. That’s obvious,” Balkovec said. “But behind closed doors, people need to understand that’s a really special person, and what he brings to the clubhouse from a character standpoint is phenomenal.”

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