The Marlins third baseman of the future may be progressing ahead of schedule. Speculation is growing that Matt Dominguez, the Marlins' 2007 first-round draft pick could make the team out of Spring Training and man the hot corner for the Fish.
"If the season opened today, Dominguez would be in the starting lineup," Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote in a Tuesday blog post. According to Frisaro, Dominguez has played stellar defense in Spring Training, which is no surprise given his reputation as a defensive wizard.
Frisaro also wrote that Dominguez "is walking and acting like he belongs" in the major leagues, but you could say that about most prospects in Spring Training.
More telling is his performance at the plate. In 26 at-bats Dominguez is hitting .269 with an on-base percentage of .367 so far this spring. That's actually an improvement from his 2010 season at Double-A Jacksonville, when he posted a .252 batting average and .333 on-base percentage (though 26 at-bats isn't a big enough sample size to draw too many conclusions).
Dominguez has hit two home runs this spring, but has not hit more than 18 in four seasons of minor-league play. In short, it is highly unlikely that he can match the performance of Jorge Cantu, who had been the Marlins third-basemen before being traded last July. Cantu hit 55 home runs and drove in 249 runs in 2 1/2 seasons with Florida.
Even so, it is worth remembering that the Marlins kept Emilio Bonifacio in the starting lineup for most of 2009, despite posting one of the worst on-base percentages in the majors. And Bonifacio's defensive reputation does not nearly stack up to that of Dominguez. If Dominguez can save some runs on defense (and he is most certainly a better defender than any of the Marlins' other third-base options), the team would probably prefer handing the job to the up-and-coming Dominguez over journeymen Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs, or Donnie Murphy.