Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 9/1/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games

Jasson and the Astronauts

Jasson Domínguez (NYY): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

As someone who has a thing for the dramatic, Domínguez’s debut last night was nothing short of divine theater. With their season long since dead and buried, the Yankees called up a prospect that has drawn superlative comparisons ever since he inked a franchise record $5.1M signing bonus four summers ago at 16 years old. The setting was Minute Maid Park against the Astros, a team that has foiled the Yankees on three separate occasions in their pursuit of the pennant. Adding more intrigue was the presence of Justin Verlander who has been a certified Yankee nemesis not just in Houston either but also going back to his days in Detroit. Ah, yes, the 2006 ALDS. I remember it well. Although Domínguez was, checks notes, three years old, so he might not remember that. There was perhaps a little bit of prospect fatigue with Domínguez; he hit the wall in Double-A, which isn’t all that uncommon. But then he skyrocketed in the last month or so reminding everyone of the precocious ability he had been touted for.

Anyway, he hit a dinger on his first swing against Verlander. You can’t make it up. I’m sure there will be narratives swirling that Domínguez’s debut might perhaps herald a changing of the guard, and that the Yankees perhaps aren’t that far off from finally slaying the dragon, i.e. beating the Houston Astros. But putting the melodrama on the back burner Domínguez last night became the sixth youngest player since 1901 to hit a home run in his first plate appearance. He’s also the youngest Yankee to go yard in his debut, according to Katie Sharp on Twitter.

Not to be the stick in the mud but there’s also the legitimate possibility that this is the high water mark and it’s all downhill from here. After all, he’s just 20. That caveat aside, Domínguez slashed .265/.377/.425 with 15 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 118 minor league games (nine in Triple-A), giving us an idea of what his upside entails. The interesting thing is that stolen bases have turned into a pretty big part of his game. His power, though, has been somewhat modest at least relative to his reputation as baseball’s extraterrestrial who now finds himself as the Yankees newly anointed center fielder. Will he live up to the hype?

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Ronny Mauricio (NYM): 2-3, 2B.

Mauricio could have very easily been the lead. But Domínguez got the better of me as someone who grew up a Yankees fan. Hey, I admit it. So Mauricio had himself a night. In his first at-bat, he redirected a 96 mph fastball from Logan Gilbert 349 feet over the head of Teoscar Hernández in right. It was an absolute laser beam at 117.3 mph. He added a groundball single off Gilbert in his third at-bat.

So, yeah, a pretty impressive debut for the switch-hitting infielder who slashed .292/.346/.506 with 23 home runs and 24 stolen bases across 116 games with Triple-A Syracuse. The power and speed upside is readily apparent. But according to his prospect report on FanGraphs by Eric Longenhagen, his major blemish appears to be poor pitch recognition which has led to low walk rates and questionable swing decisions.

Cody Bellinger (CHC): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI, SB.

This was his line from the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader. Home run number 21 came against Graham Ashcraft in the fourth, a solo shot to right (404 feet, 107.8 EV). Bellinger, of course, added his 22nd in the nightcap. He’s now hitting .320 with a .915 OPS, the best we’ve seen from him since he won the NL MVP in 2019. The wild thing about all this is that he actually has the lowest hard-hit rate of his career according to Baseball Savant. Go figure. His 15.2% K rate is also a career-low.

Nelson Velázquez (KC): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Velázquez is hitting .235 with a .886 OPS since being recalled on August 10th. Last night’s dong came in the sixth off lefty Brandon Walter after the Royals had already chopped down the Big Maple. It’s only 180 pitches, so the sample size is flimsy but Velázquez has shown off good power (65 via PLV) with average contact ability (50). He had a 29.3% K rate during his stint with Triple-A Iowa, so there’s probably more swing and miss to his game than he has thus far shown.

Bobby Witt Jr. (shocking, I know) and Salvador Perez also socked dingers for the Royals. Perez hit two and is up to 21 on the year.

Brandon Belt (TOR): 2-3, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB. 

The Jays teed off at Coors Field last night and scored a baker’s dozen. Belt doesn’t qualify, so he’s easy to overlook but he sneakily leads the Jays with a .847 OPS (100 PA minimum). He sits against left-handers but if you’re in a daily league, he’s a pretty solid CI especially if you’re in a league that utilizes walks or OBP. PLV has tracked him with 70-grade SZ Judgement and DV with 60-grade power. Not a bad profile. He’s swinging and missing a bit more these days though (30 contact ability).

For the Jays, Danny Jansen hit his 17th home run of the year but sadly also broke his finger. Ernie Clement, who has been the fill-in for Bo Bichette, had a big night and hit his first home run of the year and just the fourth of his career.

Nolan Jones (COL): 3-3, 3B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Hey, the Rockies made a game of it at least. Jones’ 14th of the year actually gave the Rockies a 5-4 lead in the sixth. And it was an opposite-field shot against lefty reliever Génesis Cabrera, so that was unique. Jones has shown off terrific power (70 via PLV) but strikeouts are an issue. He leads the Rockies with a .890 OPS (100 PA minimum).

Elehuris Montero also hit his sixth for the Rockies.

Esteury Ruiz (OAK): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.

His third home run of the year came against Jaime Barría, a 415-shot to left-center. We know what Ruiz is at this point. I don’t think he’s all that different from Mallex Smith, but, hey 54 stolen bases plays in the fantasy world; however, he has been a pretty big drain in the other categories. As an aside, is there a more fitting microcosm of the Angel’s season than this? Losing 9-2 to the A’s and allowing a home run to Ruiz. Pain.

Travis Blankenhorn (WSH): 1-2, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB.

I’ll admit I was a little disappointed; I thought this was his first career home run. Nope! That happened already, two years ago actually. Blankenhorn is a 27-year-old left-hitting outfielder who slashed .262/.360/.517 in 108 games at Triple-A prior to being recalled yesterday. I’m guessing he gets an audition, so the playing time should be there at least.

Logan O’Hoppe (LAA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

O’Hoppe was a catcher we were really excited about before the season began. But then his season was torpedoed by a shoulder injury in late April. Before being traded to the Angels last year, O’Hoppe put up a .391 wOBA in Double-A with a 13% BB/16.5% K rate, so the plate skills and power are there.

Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

He and Bellinger have been the two guys who have come back with a vengeance this year. Ozuna’s 32nd of the year came against Julio Urías, a 412-foot solo shot to straightaway center. He’s now 11th among qualifiers with a .887 OPS.

Jake Fraley (CIN): 3-4, 2 2B, R.

Fraley is back after a fractured toe sent him to the IL. He was in a pretty strict platoon before he got hurt and then the Reds added Hunter Renfroe and Harrison Bader on waivers, so I’m not entirely sure about how the playing time shakes out. Still, Fraley has had a really good year hitting .269 with a career-best .825 OPS along with 15 home runs and 20 steals so he’s certainly worth keeping a close eye on.


Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare

Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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