Toronto Blue Jays minor-league outfielder Dalton Pompey is still looking for his next true shot at the 25-man roster
Dalton Pompey’s career has endured more ups and downs than most do by the age of 23. The Canadian centre-fielder was a breakout prospect star league-wide in 2014, but after quickly losing the starting MLB job in 2015, Pompey’s been practicing his patience.
Under the new front office of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, Pompey entered spring training with an outside shot at a spot in the outfield. That job went eventually went to Michael Saunders, sending Pompey to triple-A Buffalo for the second full season in a row.
An early toe injury and a concussion later in the year limited Pompey to 383 plate appearances over 93 games with the Bisons.
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Pompey remains a plus defender in the outfield and his glove alone could carry him at a comfortable MLB value over a full season. If the Blue Jays are unable to add an impact corner outfielder, taking a glove-first approach is conceivable in left field (albeit unideal).
At the dish, Pompey’s plate approach remained strong with a .349 on-base percentage. He walked 40 times and struck out 72, so while this ratio does not equal his excellent marks from 2014 and 2015, reason for optimism remains. The ideal long-term projection for Pompey is a leadoff hitter with a plus on-base tool, so this facet of his game is pivotal to maintain.
Pompey added 18 stolen bases (seven times caught stealing). When healthy, his base running should allow him to top 30 steals consistently.
Injuries were a real factor in keeping Pompey grounded last season, but beyond those, his big-picture numbers were not quite where they needed to be to push for an MLB roster spot.
While Pompey will never be a power producer, his four home runs and 14 doubles were below expectations. This left him with a .702 OPS in triple-A, and even though his MLB value doesn’t exist solely in his bat, that number doesn’t kick the door down.
Now that Pompey has plateaued over the past 18 months, his value on the open market has also lost the electricity it had from 2014 to early 2015. If it were not for Kevin Pillar, Pompey may be with the MLB club already, but his lack of current power makes his bat a difficult sell in a corner outfield spot as the Jays look to replace Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Michael Saunders.
Still just 23 years old, Pompey has the advantage of time. This is why the Blue Jays have been playing his development slow and steady since his meteoric 2014 rise, and that’s the proper approach.
Pompey still has the ability to be an everyday major-league outfielder, and a valuable one at that. His nationality will continue to peg Pompey with the ‘Maple Saviour’ tag that was attached to Brett Lawrie coming up as a prospect, but in time, he’ll be given another full-time shot to prove himself.
The Blue Jays may open 2016 without him on the 25-man roster, but unlike last season, he could be the first name selected from triple-A when an injury hits.
Other Toronto Blue Jays ‘Year in Review’ Profiles:
Michael Saunders Ryan Goins Ezequiel Carrera Joe Biagini
Chris Colabello Aaron Loup Kevin Pillar Melvin Upton Jr.
Justin Smoak Francisco Liriano Ryan Tepera Devon Travis
J.A. Happ Roberto Osuna Marcus Stroman Jason Grilli