With the Blue Jays starting left-field job open for competition, we look at the direct (and indirect) factors facing the young Canadian Dalton Pompey
This wasn’t where Dalton Pompey envisioned himself being one year ago.
The Blue Jays centre-fielder of the future seemed poised for an early arrival at just 22-years-old. A 2014 minor league campaign split between Dunedin, New Hampshire and Buffalo had skyrocketed him towards “next big thing” status, but as is often the case, his debut performance with the big club did not go as planned.
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Now, Pompey enters Toronto’s 2016 spring training vying for a job in left-field, the presence of Kevin Pillar in centre eliminating any potential of a return to his natural position in the near future at the major league level.
Yesterday, I wrote that Shi Davidi of Sportsnet had suggested the starting job was Michael Saunders’ to lose. An idea that, agree with it or not, has legs from the organization’s standpoint.
The direct one-on-one competition between Pompey and Saunders will play the majority factor here, of course, but when looking at this situation from Pompey’s corner, a handful of external elements could enter the picture as well.
1) The competition within the competition
Pompey is not just competing against the man next to him in Saunders, he’s also competing with a handful of players who currently sit behind him on the depth chart.
Ezequiel Carrera found his way into more 2015 games than ever expected and seemed to earn the trust of manager John Gibbons. Junior Lake still possesses some high-ceiling (albeit wildly unpredictable) potential and is out of minor league options, while recent trade addition Darrell Ceciliani is coming off a breakout season at the triple-A level and has the physical tools to work with.
I would argue that a strong at-bat or defensive play from one of those three names this spring is something that will work in Saunders’ favour. Any temptation to return Pompey to triple-A Buffalo for additional seasoning will be made much easier if a true and impactful fourth outfielder emerges.
Next: Factor 2: Are we forgetting about the glove?