Switch-hitting outfielder Dalton Pompey was raised in Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. He intended to learn accounting at University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., but playing on the Canadian junior team changed his fortunes.
Growing up a Blue Jays fan, Pompey played baseball in Canadian amateur programs. Toronto became interested in him after watching Pompey play for Team Canada, and it selected him in the 16th round of the 2010 Draft when he was only 17.
Athletic and talented, Pompey has progressed through the Blue Jays' system with increasing confidence, improved skills and a composite batting average of .284 in parts of six Minor League seasons. He played well enough to earn a September callup in 2014, and he hit .231 in 43 plate appearances over 17 games. Pompey began this season on Toronto's roster.
While the Blue Jays were very busy in the recent trading frenzy, they didn't let go of Pompey. He is No. 1 on their Top 30 Prospects list.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Pompey makes excellent contact, rarely striking out. His combination of superb speed and good contact make him a viable leadoff hitter.
I saw Pompey play for Mesa in the 2014 Arizona Fall League. He played in 19 games and hit only .257. However, he was coming off a regular season in which he competed at four levels, finishing with the big league club. Pompey's composite Minor League batting average was .317 in 500 plate appearances. By the time the Fall League arrived, he was likely a bit tired.
Pompey has the ability to hit the ball on the ground and use his speed to great advantage. However, line drives come off his bat with gusto and he seems a bit more comfortable from the left side of the plate. That may be the result of facing more right-handed pitching. Pompey hits well against both righties and lefties; it doesn't seem to matter.
Pompey has a keen eye and good knowledge of the strike zone. A patient and selective hitter, his power and strength continue to improve. Not yet at full maturation, Pompey projects to increase his power output and combine that with very good speed to score and drive in runs. His ability to get loft on the ball is increasing.
It is in the outfield where Pompey really separates himself from average players. He tracks the ball off the bat well, using good routes as well as above average closing speed to reach most balls hit in the air. Pompey's first-step quickness and instincts lead him directly to the path of the ball. He will save runs with his fearless and advanced outfield defense.
Pompey projects best to play take-charge defense in center field. But he can play either corner with ease, and he has the arm strength to play above average defense in right.
Pompey takes full advantage of his plus speed and outstanding defense as his two most advanced and refined tools.
Pompey's hitting ability continues to develop and his power is increasing, making him a potential five-tool player. The success he had in his terrific 2014 season across many levels of the Blue Jays' organization provided a glimpse of his upside.
When I saw Pompey in the Arizona Fall League, he tried to do too much in every at-bat. He has to keep the same approach from both sides of the plate and try to avoid pulling pitches. Using the entire field will allow Pompey to take full advantage of both his speed and power.
I find this interesting
Pompey's mother threw batting practice to him when he was a child. He learned to switch-hit after his mom read a sports magazine article about quality hitters learning to switch-hit early in their baseball maturation.
The future of Pompey
Pompey will have to continue to develop his hitting to earn a permanent role with the Blue Jays, and he will have to show he can hit secondary pitches. I think that will happen.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.