Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in 2007, Jose Dominguez spent his first three seasons in the Dominican Summer League before coming to the states in 2011. He began his career as a starter but converted to relief in 2012.
In his new role, Dominguez was regularly clocked in the high 90s and began touching 100 MPH with some regularity. He made his Major-League debut June 30, 2013, when he pitched a perfect inning and recorded a strikeout.
After the Dodgers signed multiple veteran relievers in the off-season, it was unclear whether Dominguez would make the club out of Spring Training. He posted strong numbers, allowing just a two earned runs in 8.2 innings while striking out 10, which led the team to take him to their opening trip in Australia.
However, handed the ball in the second game with a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Dominguez imploded. He faced just four batters, walking two, and would eventually allow three runs while recording just one out. He was optioned to the Minors when the team returned to the states.
Over the next few months, Dominguez would bounce back and forth between the Major League club and their Triple-A affiliate, Albuquerque Isotopes. He was promoted for an injured Brian Wilson on April 2, then demoted a week later.
Dominguez came back on April 21, but only stayed up for six days. On May 2, he returned, and was sent back down the very next day. In the end, the constant change of addresses may have been too much as the 23 year old allowed eight earned runs, including a pair of homers, in his five appearances.
Dominguez held his own in Albuquerque , allowing just a 3.24 ERA in 31 games and recording 10 saves as the team’s closer. He struck out 39 batters but also walked 18, which seemed to be a prevalent theme for the Isotopes’ staff.
Unfortunately, Dominguez was shut down in late July with shoulder inflammation and wouldn’t return to action until early September with the Ogden Raptors. His injury cost him a spot on the Major League roster, and the Dodgers certainly could have used another reliever down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
Dominguez spent little time in the Majors and faced a good amount of adversity when he did. However, his best outing came on April 4, after Hyun-jin Ryu pitched just two innings while allowing eight runs against the Giants. Dominguez was called on to try and stop the bleeding in the third inning and he did just that.
Manager Don Mattingly needed his bullpen to eat up innings, and the wild flamethrower hadn’t been reliable in his debut. However, Dominguez was up to the task that day, pitching a pair of perfect frames, including strikeouts of Hunter Pence and Buster Posey.
Brandon League, Chris Withrow and Jamey Wright would also contribute no-hit innings, but the Dodgers still wound up losing 8-4. Regardless, it was the bright spot on a personal level for Dominguez this season.
Still just 24-years-old and with the best fastball in the organization, Dominguez offers the club a power arm in the back of their bullpen. However, the Dodgers’ relief corps is pretty full right now, so, once again, it’s unlikely that he breaks camp with the Major-League team.
It’s also worth noting that Dominguez only has one option left, so 2015 is the last season he can be sent back to the minors without having to clear waivers. If he can stay healthy and find a consistent role, the Dominican flamethrower could be a productive member of the Dodgers’ bullpen next year.