With an uphill battle to earn a job in spring training, Canadian outfielder Dalton Pompey needs to make an impressive showing prior to Opening Day. Having the opportunity to start for Team Canada in the WBC might be his best showcase opportunity.
As we’ve mentioned many times here at Jays’ Journal, the Blue Jays have a big question mark when it comes to their left field job. 24 year old Dalton Pompey is competing with the likes of Melvin Upton, Ezequiel Carrera, and likely Steve Pearce for playing time in left, and in Pompey’s case, a spot on the 25 man roster.
There are several factors working against Pompey, including his having minor league options, Carrera being out of minor league options, and of course, the fact that the Blue Jays plan on competing for the AL East crown again this season. If the Jays weren’t projected to be competitive, Pompey’s inexperience would be easier to take, but unfortunately for him, that’s not the case.
In addition to the in-house candidates, there have been rumours circulating that the Blue Jays have at least inquired about remaining free agent available, Angel Pagan, and the recently cut, Brett Lawrie. If either player were signed, it would work against Pompey’s chances as well, especially in the case of Pagan. Whether or not Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins bring in another player, remains to be seen.
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With the list of variables in front of him, Pompey likely knows he’s a long shot to make the Opening Day roster. That said, he has a unique opportunity to showcase his talents, and perhaps a better stage than the Grapefruit League would have provided him.
With Team Canada, Pompey should be the regular starter in centre field, and will likely receive regular playing time. Team Canada faced off against the Blue Jays in an exhibition game on Tuesday, and Pompey took full advantage, reaching base 4 times.
He managed 2 singles, a walk, reached on an error, and added a stolen base for good measure. He also took a hit away from Kevin Pillar, which has no doubt set him up for some future ribbing from his teammates.
Back in 2014, Pompey opened the season as the starting centre fielder, and failed to run with the job at the time. He looked a little overwhelmed at the big league level, which was fair considering he was just 21 at the time. Now 24, he has continued to develop in Triple A Buffalo over the last couple seasons, but hasn’t forced the Blue Jays’ hand in adding him to the big league lineup.
The WBC might be his best chance to do just that. With the Blue Jays not having a solidified option in left, especially against right-handed pitched, Pompey could play himself into a gig if the chips fall the right way. And if not now, when will the Blue Jays turn the keys to the talented Canuck?
Even though he’s still just 24, it’s starting to feel like the former 16th round pick needs to prove himself, or risk falling into the dreaded “AAAA” player category. He’s played well in Buffalo, but again, hasn’t barged his way onto the MLB roster, despite the Blue Jays’ need for corner outfielders in recent seasons. The WBC could give Pompey a world stage to show that he’s ready for the next step, and the Blue Jays have the best candidate, already in-house.
The floor is yours, Mr. Pompey.