Where were you when you learned that the Giants signed Jose Dominguez to a minor-league deal? Probably right there. Wherever you are right now. Please, hold off texting family and friends until the end of the article. The Giants will sign, dunno, a dozen minor-league free agents before the end of the offseason. This is just one of them.
However, this is my favorite genre of minor-league free agent: Random reliever with unambiguous talent and lackluster results. Dominguez has appeared in each of the last four major league seasons, but 2016 (with the Padres) was the first time he appeared in more than nine games. How did it go?
Eh. Dominguez is 26, so he’s not exactly an old moose, but those are very unimpressive statistics. He struck out just 20 of the 155 batters he faced, he was hit pretty hard, and his command wasn’t exactly perfect, either. This doesn’t seem like a pitcher worth getting excited about, even after adjusting for the low bar of a minor-league deal.
But if you’re wondering why the Giants would mess with him, there’s an easy, obvious answer. Dude can chuck it. Here’s a 95-mph fastball with movement down and away.
Dominguez touched 98.5 mph in that game, too, so it’s not as if 95 is his upper limit. He also throws a hard slider about 20 percent of the time, and that averaged 90 mph. His changeup is still a work in progress, but you can dream about its potential if you watch how it breaks down Corey Seager.
He’s a minor-league free agent, though, because he doesn’t throw a ton of strikes. His career walks-per-nine in the minors is 4.7, which is Jonathan Sanchez territory, so you can see how the Dodgers, Rays, and now Padres have let him go. His best pitches are exciting, but his worst pitches are legion.
Still, these are all words you could have written about Santiago Casilla back in 2009. Stuff was good. Results were bleh. Command was woof. The Giants signed him to a minor-league deal, and suddenly he rediscovered his strikeout pitch. Now we all remember him as a key cog on three World Series championship teams. And that’s all we remember him for.
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AND THAT’S ALL WE REMEMBER HIM FOR. So when the Giants sign a live-armed, low-control fella as a bullpen raffle ticket, I’m in. I’m disproportionately excited. The odds are against Dominguez ever making the majors with the Giants, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy moves like this. Rome wasn’t blown in a day. Built, I mean. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is a good bullpen.
What an odd freudian slip, guess we’ll never know what that was about, anyway, welcome to the organization, Jose Dominguez! Strike some people out and make the Padres and Dodgers feel bad about themselves.