Hats off to Domingo who impresses with strong arm, defensive skills at T12

UBC Thunder RHP Vicarte Domingo (Vancouver, B.C.) threw a total of three scoreless innings in his T12 debut, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five. Photo: J.P. Antonacci

UBC Thunder RHP Vicarte Domingo (Vancouver, B.C.) threw a total of three scoreless innings in his T12 debut, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five. Photo: J.P. Antonacci

September 21, 2019

By J.P. Antonacci

Canadian Baseball Network

In his final inning of work at the 2019 edition of Tournament 12, Vancouver’s Vicarte Domingo proved he could locate his fastball, throw breaking balls for strikes – and catch a pop fly inches from the ground.

After punching out Team Maroon outfielder Darius Armorer on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the ninth of Sunday’s Prospects Game, Domingo coaxed a pop fly off the bat of Dante Wright.

“I saw it go up (and) I called it first, because I’m like, okay, this shouldn’t be too hard to catch. I didn’t hear anybody around me call it,” Domingo said.

What looked like a routine pop-up ending up having some carry to it, pulling Domingo behind the mound toward second base. At the last second, he lunged toward the turf and stuck out his glove.

“I caught it by my knee. I was lucky I caught it. I thought I was going to drop it,” he said with a grin.

Another of Domingo’s talents is finding the plate even as his cap falls off his head, which it did during several of his windups on Saturday.

Another of UBC Thunder RHP Vicarte Domingo’s skills is still pitching effectively despite his hat falling off, which happened several times in the Tournament 12 Prospects Game on Saturday. Photo: J.P. Antonacci

Another of UBC Thunder RHP Vicarte Domingo’s skills is still pitching effectively despite his hat falling off, which happened several times in the Tournament 12 Prospects Game on Saturday. Photo: J.P. Antonacci

“I have to wear this headband because I wear glasses, and whenever I don’t wear the headband, the glasses fall off my face. But if I keep the headband on, the hat falls off,” he explained. “So it’s a common problem – every time I veer back, it falls off.”

Undeterred by his errant cap, Domingo tossed a clean inning to close out Team Roberto Alomar’s 6-1 win in the Prospects Game. It capped off an impressive week for the 16-year-old, who threw a total of three scoreless innings in his T12 debut, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five.

“It’s been a great experience,” Domingo said. “I thought I did pretty well. Last game, I kinda ran out of gas in my second inning because I wasn’t conditioned enough. But I was still throwing pretty hard in my second inning, so I was pretty proud of that.”

Domingo, who plays with UBC Thunder in Vancouver, said T12 represents a major step up in terms of showing pro and college scouts what he can do.

“I hope it gets me college scholarship opportunities. That’d be pretty awesome. And just to get my name out there,” he said.

“From where I’m from, I don’t get as much exposure. We don’t travel that much or do too many big tournaments ... This is probably the biggest thing I’ve been at in my entire life. Other than the Little League World Series, but this is pretty big.”

Learning how to perform under that pressure is an important lesson Domingo will take from his week in Toronto.

“Every moment’s going to be pretty big, especially on this platform, but just controlling my breathing and not letting the nerves get to me was a big help. And listening to my teammates saying, ‘You’re gonna do great, just calm down, you’ll be fine.’ That really encouraged me and helped me feel very confident when I stepped on the mound,” he said.

That confidence showed in the results, and in his willingness to use all four of his pitches, led by a high-80s fastball.

“I’m still developing my changeup, but my curveball and slider are pretty damn near close to each other, and my fastball is my best pitch,” Domingo said.

His approach to facing unfamiliar hitters was to attack the strike zone early with an off-speed pitch and then finish off batters with his lively fastball.

“A lot of these guys could get beat by a fastball, so I pumped fastballs by them,” he said. “Most of the guys can’t hit my curveball or slider when they’re expecting a fastball, so I just used that curveball or slider as a ‘here you go, try and hit it’ kind of pitch.”

Before throwing his first pitch on Sunday, Domingo kissed a crucifix he wears around his neck, made the sign of the cross, and traced the initials of his parents’ names – Cristine and Ricarte Domingo – and his girlfriend, Julianna Pathyil, in the dirt behind the pitching rubber.

“It keeps me in check of who I’m playing for and reminds me that this is for them,” he said.

Canadian pro pitcher Shane Dawson, a guest coach with Team Maroon, liked what he saw of Domingo’s performance.

“Clean arm action. Pretty fast-twitch arm, and as he gets older and gains some awareness of the game, with a little trial and error, I think he’ll figure out a pretty solid game plan and be a really good pitcher,” Dawson said.

As for that eventful pop fly behind the mound?

“Gotta let the infielders take that one, maybe,” Dawson smiled.