The Toronto Blue Jays brain-trust sculpted an off-season plan that involved seeing their team become more athletic, younger and versatile for the upcoming campaign. These winter goals have yet to come to fruition or matriculate with spring training on the not so distant horizon.
The Blue Jays outfield needs have been discussed ad nauseam all winter long with little mention of Dalton Pompey. The Jays dangled bait in front of free agent Dexter Fowler, attempted to yet again land Jay Bruce as well as his New York Mets teammate Curtis Granderson and even reportedly casted a line at the proverbial lunker in Andrew McCutchen before settling on a reunion with slugger Jose Bautista.
Yet sitting in the weeds, chomping at the bit for another opportunity to patrol the outfield at the Rogers Centre is the much younger and athletic Dalton Pompey. The same Dalton Pompey who beat out Kevin Pillar for the starting centre-field position on opening day in 2015. The Pompey experiment was short-lived and Pillar, the human highlight reel affectionately known as “Superman”, has never looked back.
However at some point the Blue Jays are going to have to roll the dice with the 24-year-old and afford him another opportunity at an everyday job in the majors, or send him packing in hopes of receiving something viable in return. If the season were to kick off today, John Gibbons would be pencilling in either Melvin Upton or Ezequiel Carrera to occupy left field. Surely Pompey can provide equal if not better production than the other two options.
It has been speculated that Pompey will join team Canada for the World Baseball Classic, so who knows if a formidable tournament will kick-start the youngster’s confidence and carry over to him earning a spot on the team out of spring training. Pompey admitted in 2015 that the pressure of the major leagues got the better of him during his cup of coffee with the team.
In his defence, he did begin the 2014 season in high-A ball climbing all the way up to the big club as a September call-up and setting the stage for him in 2015. There is no way to gauge if the quick escalation through the ranks was detrimental to his overall growth and development as a player.
Pompey now sits with parts of three seasons in the majors under his belt including five postseason appearances where he swiped four bags off the bench in the playoff pressure cooker. Pompey struggled with injuries for much of the first half of last season in Buffalo but still managed to salvage the season hitting a respectable .270 with 18 steals in 93 games for the Bisons. The Jays could benefit from some much needed speed sprinkled around the home run swatters.
Regardless, one thing is for certain, the time is now for Dalton Pompey and if he falters again, he may be destined for a career in minor league purgatory.