Most of the general public, perhaps even many hardcore baseball enthusiasts, were unacquainted with Domingo German until Sunday. German has never been a top-100 prospect. He is 25 years old and has been a professional for nearly a decade, yet he remained largely unknown. He was, for example, still available in most fantasy baseball leagues as of Sunday afternoon.
But on Sunday afternoon, German went out to the middle of the infield at Yankee Stadium and no-hit the Indians for six innings, striking out nine against two walks. He was taken out of the game by Aaron Boone due only to pitch-count concerns. It was his first major-league start, and he dominated.
Maybe the Yankees, already enjoying a rare collection of young talent, an uber bullpen, a cast of superstar sluggers, and an incredible amount of purchasing power for next offseason, have unearthed yet more wealth.
With Jordan Montgomery leaving his last start because of an elbow strain, this is a chance for German — labeled as something of a ‘tweener — to compete for a rotation gig.
Boone spoke to reporters about German and his rotation status.
“We’ll see how it evolves… I foresee [German] being in the rotation — at least a couple times through — just based on where we are roster-wise and availability-wise… We feel like he’s more than capable of stepping in there in a starting role.”
The following is a brief history of German, in part to underscore the obscurity from which he has risen to this place of relevance.
The 25-year-old German signed with the then-Florida Marlins on Aug. 8, 2009 as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic for a paltry $40,000.
He was granted free agency in December of 2015 only to return to the Yankees later that month on a minor-league deal.
German never posted an ERA or FIP above 3.44 at any minor-league stop. Last year in Double-A, he struck out more than a batter per inning for the first time in his career. His 19.7-point K-BB% mark was his best since Rookie ball in 2013. He was then promoted to Triple-A, where he posted another 19-point mark.
His lithe, 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame has always created excellent velocity, but perhaps his fastball was not fully appreciated until we placed TrackMan radar upon it. German’s average spin rate of 2,525 rpms this season ranks eighth in baseball. That’s elite. The pitch ranked fifth last season in a small sample of work.
Couple that strong spin with a fastball that sits at 95 mph and you have something rare, though his velocity was not quite that good as a starter on Sunday.
German also has a two-seamer…
A changeup that generated a ton of swing-and-miss Sunday…
And a breaking ball…
That’s a starting-pitcher skillset.
What’s particularly interesting is that German is seemingly buying into the Yankees’ aversion to the fastball — perhaps to his great benefit. This season, German has thrown a fastball variant 36.6% of the time, his curveball at a 38.6% rate, and his changeup a quarter of the time.
He was even more extreme Sunday, throwing his fastballs at a 29.8% rate and his curveball at a 41.7% clip.
German has always had swing-and-miss stuff, although perhaps we didn’t know the stuff was this good. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings this season, German ranks seventh in out-of-zone swing rate above Noah Syndergaard and just behind Chris Sale and Patrick Corbin.
The Yankees didn’t need any help, but they might just have unearthed another useful piece, and perhaps something more.