Name: Luis Domoromo
DOB: February 4, 1992
Signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2008 to a seven-figure deal, Domoromo was too young to play in affiliated ball that season. The rules state that a player must turn 17 during the season to play and Domoromo didn't turn 17 until February, 2009.
The outfielder did come to the Padres Instructional League that year – getting a taste of professional baseball in a safe setting.
Possessing a body frame of someone much older, Domoromo didn't look entirely out of place. He was not fundamentally sound in executing all of the little nuances of the game but was also not overwhelmed by the information being thrown at him or the competition against players three to six years his senior.
The left-handed hitter debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2009, hitting .243 across 67 games with the DSL Padres as a 17-year-old. He netted 10 extra base hits, including seven triples, scored 45 runs and notched 26 RBI. Domoromo also posted a 44-to-47 walk-to-strikeout ratio, giving him a .380 on-base percentage for the year.
"He was driving the ball – he is on track for where he should be," Padres director of player development and international scouting Randy Smith said. "He has progressed well. When it is all said and done, I think we are satisfied with where he is for a first year player.
The Venezuelan native hit .277 off right-handed pitchers but struggled to the tune of a .123 average in 57 at-bats against southpaws.
Domoromo also pressed with runners in scoring position on a team that did not score consistently, hitting .200 in those situations and batting .213 with runners on any base. By contrast, he hit .269 with the bases empty.
"I would have thought he might have hit for just a touch more average," Smith conceded. "The power numbers I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to yet. Great if you hit them out, but to me his bat speed improved, he's got some pitch recognition. He's got some plate discipline."
Upon signing, Domoromo was viewed as a power hitting threat with patience and pitch selection already woven into his game. He proved that he was adept at working counts, a piece of the puzzle that will aid him greatly in the future. The concern, however, was the lack of power he showed. Domoromo netted just one homer on the season and his seven triples were more line drives that made it into the gaps. For a kid expected to make an impact, the lack of consistent hard contact and home run prowess was a concern for some.
Lost in the swirling talk is Domoromo played at 17. While some, like Rymer Liriano, prove they can go yard at such a young age, most players take time to develop. Immediately knocking him based on a single year seems excessive. The outfielder also played through back pain – an injury that sapped his strength and was still affecting him when he came to '09 instructs.
Blessed with a solid foundation and a rapidly developing body, Domoromo does have considerable power ability. Tapping into that power will be based on experience and some mechanical changes.
He has a short, compact stroke but holds his hands a little too close to his head to generate the necessary torque through the ball. It almost feels like he is swinging with resistance. He does not consistently get his hands back into a relaxed hitting position. The result is his lower body isn't used at all and his hands are required to do all of the work. It has made him more of a slap hitter. As his load and separation becomes more apparent and consistent, his hard contacts will increase.
"Separation and extension," Domoromo said of the things he is working on. "I am working on getting a better load to my swing and making sure my hands are extended as they go through the hitting zone."
When Domoromo returned to the Padres Instructional League in 2009, it appeared he had stacked on 10 to 15 pounds of muscle.
"I just saw him, first day of instructional league," Smith began. "It's always different when the DSL guys show up and blend in with the kids that have been in the States. Last year, you looked at him and go, ‘Ok, well that's a 16-year-old kid.' This year, the bat speed, the way the ball jumped off the bat, huge difference. Looks more like he belongs and that's kind of the progress you're looking for.
"A perfect example of not making too big a deal out of DSL numbers is Liriano. Liriano barely hit .200 last year in the DSL, coming up here hitting .340. I think it's that these guys progress at their own rate. Sometimes it's not as fast as we'd like to see, but as long as they're making progress we're happy.
"Luis, to me, showed maturity. He played through some back pain. He was kind of a leader in that club. Good work ethic. I thought all in all it was a positive year. Sure I'd love to see him hit .300, but the kid had no negatives and really some positives with bat speed and plate discipline were all good things. He hit seven triples. I don't think that's going to be a part of his game... as he matures, but it's nice to see."
Domoromo uses the whole field to hit and will sit back on a breaking ball and take it the other way. He has to work on pulling the inside pitch a little more but that will come in time.
Playing center field the entire year, Domoromo has some speed but that will likely be lessened as he matures. He profiles as a corner outfielder with the time in center aiding his reads and tracking ability. He has a slightly below average arm but worked hard this year to improve in that area.
As mentioned previously, Domoromo currently has enough speed to keep defenses honest and will steal the occasional bag. He netted eight stolen bases this past season and is more than a station-to-station runner. As he matures and finishes growing into his body, the speed will decline and likely be average.
Exhibiting a strong work ethic, the outfielder was a quiet leader in the Dominican Republic. His insatiable desire rubbed off on teammates and his habits were used to teach others.
"I think he did what I expected," DSL Padres manager Evaristo Lantigua said. "One thing I was expecting was more homers. He saw a lot of changeups away and a lot of breaking balls. Domoromo – and Yair Lopez – were two that showed the most improvement. I think next year he could have a big year in the states."
Conclusion: Domoromo has a world of upside as a high average hitter that will take plenty of walks and have better than average power. The focus for him will be on hitting the gaps with regularity because the power will naturally come. He has the tools to be a quality bat that hits over 20 homers annually and boasts a .300 average with a high on-base percentage. Of course, a lot of experience and time in the game has to happen for him to meet those goals. One area that must improve is situational hitting.
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