Jays From the Couch looks at 2017 as a ‘Make or Break’ year for Toronto Blue Jays’ Canadian outfielder, Dalton Pompey
Coming into his eighth season with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, now is the time for Dalton Pompey to finally show the big club his full potential.
Here’s what we know – he’s an above average defender with elite speed that can change the course of a game (as seen throughout the Blue Jays’ 2015 playoff run).
Here’s what we don’t know – if he has the ability to consistently hit the ball at the Major League level, which is what has held him back from catching on with the Blue Jays in previous seasons.
At the age of 24, the Canadian is just entering his prime and will aim to prove that he can become a more consistent Major League hitter throughout 2017. Many believe his best days in a Blue Jays uniform are ahead of him, and if his spring training debut last Wednesday is any indication, that just may be the case.
Pompey looked great in his first taste of 2017 Grapefruit League action against the Tigers, smacking an opposite field homerun to left and drawing a walk in his two plate appearances, while continuing to show off his speed and strong defence in the outfield.
Dalton Pompey just went yard for the #BlueJays. Fans from coast to coast react calmly and rationally.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 1, 2017
Pompey then made three more (slightly less successful) appearances over the weekend, drawing another walk and scoring two runs. The switch hitter left the club to join team Canada at the World Baseball Classic earlier this week with a rather pedestrian .222 spring training AVG, but his .364 OBP and .919 OPS should help his case in trying to make the opening day roster.
That homer on Wednesday paid early dividends to Pompey’s hard work throughout the off-season, as he put on 18 pounds of muscle (now packing about 210) in an effort to add power and consistency at the plate to his skill set.
This, paired with the fact he’s coming off a successful season in Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit for a .270/.349/.353 slash line, with four homeruns and 28 RBI’s, might help Pompey finally have the breakout season that many Blue Jays players, coaches and executives feel he is capable of.
After all, with his speed, Pompey could be the leadoff hitter the Jays have longed-for, combining consistent hitting with speed and a high on-base percentage. The team will be able to get a great early look at this in meaning ball games at WBC, where the Mississauga, Ont. native pencils in as both Canada’s leadoff hitter and starting centre fielder.
When it comes down to it, should we expect Pompey to crack the Blue Jays’ opening day roster? No. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would bet the farm against it, as it is highly unlikely he unseats the likes of Melvin Upton Jr., Ezequiel Carrera or part-time outfielder Steve Pearce on the opening day depth chart.
That being said, with minor league options left, expect to see Pompey get his chances early and often in the upcoming season. A lot can happen over 162 games, and with a very uncertain situation out in left field, the Canadian will get his chance to prove his worth.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison under CC BY-SA 2.0
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