JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Matt Dominguez #78 of the Florida Marlins hits a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on February 28, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Matt Dominguez
The Marlins reassigned third-basemen of the future Matt Dominguez to minor league camp Thursday morning, ensuring that he will start the season in the minors and not in the Marlins' starting lineup as the team initially hoped.
Though scouts and sportswriters still rave about his defensive abilities, Dominguez showed in Spring Training that he could use more time in the minors to improve his hitting. Dominguez hit .190 (8-for-42) with a .292 on base percentage in Spring Training action.
The demotion is not a huge shock, as Dominguez was not expected to make the big club heading into Spring Training. He is still 21, after all.
However, the move leaves the team without an obvious choice to man the hot corner. 2010 Opening Day starter Jorge Cantu was traded to Texas in July, leaving Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs, Donnie Murphy, and Emilio Bonifacio as the remaining options at third. Helms is no longer an everyday starter, while Dobbs and Murphy are both journeymen who have never been regular starters in the major leagues.
This could leave an opening for Bonifacio, an average defender who posted one of the worst on base percentages in the majors among everyday players in 2009.
The Marlins could still make a trade for a veteran third-baseman. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted this morning that the Fish may try to make a trade for Pedro Feliz of the Royals, but his stats suggest he would not be a significant upgrade (Feliz is a career .250 hitter).
The Marlins have a considerable vacuum at third base on their hands, having hoped Dominguez could progress faster than anticipated and spared the team this dilemma. Instead, Marlins fans are left wondering if it would be prudent to petition Major League Baseball to undo last year's Cantu trade.