Toronto Blue Jays 2016 season preview: Dalton Pompey
Young outfielder Dalton Pompey has long been viewed as an important piece of the Blue Jays future, but with age on his side, the future may have to wait
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Many people expected Dalton Pompey to seamlessly transition into the Blue Jays roster going into the 2015 season. And while he broke camp with the big league squad, his early-season struggles led him to an up and down year through the upper minors.
While the Blue Jays do have a decent stockpile of depth now in the outfield, coupled with the 23-year-old Pompey’s possible need for more seasoning, the uncertainty surrounding the outfield may still lead to an opportunity for Pompey to steal himself a spot for 2016.
2015 Performance Recap
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Coming out of spring training, Dalton Pompey (along with a handful of other unproven youngsters) broke camp up north with the Toronto Blue Jays for Opening Day. And while some saw this as a great chance for Pompey to have a break out season in The Show, he struggled in a month with Toronto, putting together a .193/.264/.337 slash line over 91 plate appearances.
Outside of his offensive struggles, Pompey continued to play outstanding defence in the outfield and ran the bases with aplomb (despite his measly two early seasons stolen bases).
After a demotion to the Buffalo Bisons in triple-A, and a subsequent demotion to double-A, Pompey finally put it together at the plate. He produced a .351/.405/.545 batting line in 148 plate appearances at double-A, earning himself a return to Buffalo.
Once rosters expanded in September, the Blue Jays decided to bring Pompey back into the fold. While he mainly utilized primarily as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, he proved his worth enough to earn a spot on the postseason roster.
In the Blue Jays historic playoff run, Pompey continued to excel in his minimal but valuable role. While he wasn’t given a proper shot to display his improvement at the plate, Toronto management will be keeping an eye on his bat come Spring Training in 2016.
2016 Role and Steamer Projections
Pompey comes into Spring Training with plenty of doubt surrounding the role he will play in 2016. He seems to have relatively equal odds of ending up back in Buffalo to acquire every day at bats or hang around with the Blue Jays as a piece in the everchanging puzzle of the outfield in Toronto.
When looking at the Steamer projections, it seems he’s being pegged for the latter. With projections of 292 PA’s to go with an improved batting line of .261/.322/.387, Steamer is projecting Pompey’s first real impactful season in the big leagues.
What Could Go Wrong?
With a crowded outfield picture (at least for starters) and the need for Pompey to continue his development in a full time role, it is very possible Pompey does not start 2016 with the Blue Jays.
And while another year to build his bat in the minors is not a bad thing, if he struggles like he did when first sent down to Buffalo last season, there could be serious questions arising regarding Pompey’s future as a Toronto Blue Jay.
Next: 3 additional factors facing Dalton Pompey this spring
What Could Go Right?
While the starters in the outfield seem to be relatively settled going into spring training (minus the recent drama concerning the Jay Bruce to Toronto rumours), the outfield bench spot is very much up for grabs.
Riding the pine isn’t exactly what the higher-ups in Toronto want, with Saunders ongoing health concerns and need to sit against left handed pitchers, there could be a shot for Pompey to grab more at bats than the average bench player.
With a chance for an increased role, and a chance to show off his improvements at the plate, Pompey could be in line for the breakout year many saw him having last year.
The Bottom Line
The big thing to keep in mind for Blue Jays fans, is that another year in Buffalo for Pompey is not the end of the world. In fact, it could be essential for Pompey claiming his role as a future cornerstone of the Blue Jays offence.
And while it is quite possible for Pompey to grab himself a spot this year, look for him to at least start the year in the minors.