Miami's No. 2 prospect missed the opening month of last season after a stray pitch hit and fractured his left elbow in a Minor League Spring Training game. When he returned to the lineup following the injury, he struggled to the point where his .714 Minor League OPS on the year was his lowest since he broke into the pros.
The 2007 first-round pick has had a rough go of it again at the beginning of the current season, batting just .219 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 18 games for Triple-A New Orleans. But after a solid performance at the plate Thursday, Dominguez thinks the tide may be turning.
MLB.com's No. 86 prospect went 3-for-4 and had a season-high four RBIs for the Zephyrs in their 9-4 win at home over Albuquerque. With the performance, Dominguez extended his team-leading RBI total to 13, third-most among Pacific Coast League third basemen.
"I'm being patient, waiting for my pitch, getting the barrel on the ball," Dominguez said. "I actually think I've been hitting the ball really well so far. I've been making good contact. It's just some bad luck, I guess. The balls haven't been finding their holes."
The California native said he had been hoping that repeating a season in the Pacific Coast League would aid his numbers. Dominguez produced an average of .258 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs in 95 games for New Orleans last season. He is taking a new approach to the plate in 2012 and hoping that brings different results.
"It's all about knowing what to expect," Dominguez said. "Going from Double-A to here, you're not facing younger guys your age anymore. These are older guys who have been around a while. Until you prove you can lay off a pitch, they'll keep throwing it to you. So I'm trying to be more patient. ... Hopefully, I can use that and get some multi-hit games going here."
Thursday marked Dominguez's second multi-hit game of the season, but also his second in eight games. He went 3-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs on April 16. That being said, the Marlins prospect knows even if his hitting does reaches another level in the upcoming days, he perhaps will not after Miami's big splash in the offseason.
"They got [Jose Reyes] ... and him and [Hanley Ramirez] make for one heck of a left side of the infield up there," Dominguez said. "I'm still fairly young, so I know I've got some time. I certainly wasn't disappointed about coming back [to New Orleans]."
Zephyrs right fielder Scott Cousins and first baseman Luke Montz both homered and drove in two runs apiece. Reliever Chris Hatcher pitched the final two scoreless frames and has allowed just one run over 12 2/3 innings to start the year.
First baseman Scott Van Slyke -- the Dodgers' No. 18 prospect -- went 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored for the Isotopes. He is hitting .362 over his first 20 games of the season.