NEW YORK — At times, Jasson Dominguez’s jaw-dropping baseball talent had stunned even the most seasoned Yankees’ evaluators.
“It was a bit shocking and very impressive,’’ Yankees international scouting director Donny Rowland said of watching “an elite level’’ athlete from the Dominican Republic with such a massive ceiling.
And he’s still only 16 years old.
“He’s the kind of player that kind of makes the hair on your arm stand up,’’ Rowland said on Tuesday, after the Yankees officially announced the signing of their top international target.
Dominguez received a record $5.1 million signing bonus, surpassing the Yankees’ previous record of $3.2 million.
A center fielder with an “outstanding makeup’’ to go along with superb all-around tools as a projected, power-hitting center fielder, “it made going all-in on him an easy decision,’’ Rowland said of the Yanks’ bonus.
And “very rarely would I go that route,’’ since the Yanks’ more common international strategy has been to diversify and sign more players.
“Every now and then the right player comes along,’’ Rowland said. “This one’s worth it. To a man, everyone on my staff agreed.’’
Dominguez was ranked No. 1 among available international prospects by MLB.comand other outlets.
The next Mike Trout?
Rowland has heard the excited chatter, comparing Dominguez to a young Mickey Mantle or a switch-hitting Mike Trout.
“I don’t like to put comparisons like that on a 16-year-old player,” Rowland said. “I think he’s going to be Jasson Dominguez and I don’t want to put him in the same vein as some people who’ve done some incredible things in our game.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to them or to him.’’
Dominguez’s exit velocity already touches 108 mph and his launch angle “is in the happy zone,’’ Rowland said of his projectable power from both sides of the plate.
But Dominguez also receives top scouting grades for his running ability and his strong, accurate throwing arm.
Though he could be a catcher or a shortstop, the Yankees view Dominguez as “a lockdown, well-above average defensive center fielder’’ with raw speed.
“Over time, he could have been a shortstop if we had chosen to develop him that way, but defense would probably lag behind the bat by a couple of years,’’ Rowland said. “Same with catching.’’
As for his big-league ETA, “he’ll tell us when he’s ready.’’
Tuesday also marked the 10th anniversary of Gary Sanchez signing with the Yankees at 16.
Luis Severino was also signed by the Yankees as an international free agent, while Gleyber Torres and Domingo German were both international signings by other organizations, acquired by the Yankees in trades.
However, the final road to Dominguez’s signing on Monday was a little rough.
On the way to the ballpark, the car carrying Rowland and other club officials blew a tire. While that was being repaired, “a huge truck accident’’ took place in view of the Yankees party.
“We were all kind of looking at each other like, well, hope the day goes better,’’ Rowland said. “It did. Jasson signed without issues.
“He was very happy, the family was very excited and obviously we’re very excited.’’
According to Rowland, Dominguez comes from a hard-working family and was “raised tremendously by a great set of parents.
“He’s humble. When he receives praise, he kind of puts his head down and smiles,’’ Rowland said. “It’s not like he’s trying to draw attention to himself.
“He loves to play the game.’’