Originally a first round pick by the Marlins in the 2007 draft, Matt Dominguez took a fast track through their minor league system and made his big league debut in September of 2011. Dominguez came to Houston in the Carlos Lee trade last July and joined the Astros for a handful of games before being sent down to AAA.
Matt Dominguez (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
While at Oklahoma City Dominguez posted a .298/.347/.398 slash line in 49 games, earning a late season call up. Billed as an outstanding fielder who had yet to put it all together at the plate, Dominguez raised some eyebrows with a .284/.310/.477 performance in 31 big league games.Dominguez played well enough to move to the top of the depth chart at 3B for Houston and he will be the favorite to start there come Opening Day 2013.
Only a .256 career hitter in the minors, it looks as if Dominguez may have started to mature as a hitter in his age 22 season. His defense was as advertised, giving the Astros a solid defender at the hot corner for the first time in years.
The Astros are hoping Dominguez can avoid the type of sophomore slump that plagued teammate J.D. Martinez last year and settle into his role as a starter. He figures to be placed near the bottom of the batting order (probably seventh or eighth) in an effort to minimize the amount of pressure he might feel. If he struggles, the 23-year old still has minor league options remaining.
The Lee trade, which also netted LHP Rob Rasmussen, could prove to be a steal if Dominguez is able to hold down the starting 3B job. Rasmussen, a product of UCLA, has been promoted to AA and is now considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.