What will it take for Dalton Pompey to get a legit shot in the outfield? He has speed and I've never seen him make a throwing error. He seems to get on base and is a legit basestealer.
-- Richard N.
Pompey would have received his shot by now if it wasn't for the concussion he sustained during the World Baseball Classic. He was ahead of Darrell Ceciliani, Anthony Alford and Dwight Smith Jr. on the depth chart, but Pompey missed two months because of post-concussion symptoms and he's only now working his way back. Pompey began playing at extended spring training last week and should be nearing a rehab assignment. Eventually, he'll end up at Triple-A Buffalo, but he'll need to prove he's all the way back before another opportunity comes his way. An injury to one of Toronto's starting three outfielders could speed that process up as well.
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Why did the Blue Jays stick with Alford over Smith? I think it should have been the other way around.
-- Mark T., Calgary, Alberta
The Blue Jays stuck with Alford because he's a right-handed bat who can platoon with Ezequiel Carrera in left field, whereas the lefty Smith would have been a bit of a redundant piece as a fourth outfielder. Normally I wouldn't be a big fan of this move because Alford should be playing every day, but in this particular case, it's not that big of a deal because he likely only sticks around until Tulowitzki and/or Donaldson return to the big league lineup. Alford is a very promising prospect, but this is the first year he has played above Class A so he could use a little bit more seasoning in the Minors. His future remains bright.
With the emergence of Joe Biagini as a starter, could Francisco Liriano become a potential trade option?
-- Matt J., Birmingham, United Kingdom
Liriano will definitely become a trade candidate if the Blue Jays are unable to get back into the race by early July, but he won't be dealt before then for a couple of reasons: 1. Toronto is clinging to the hope it will be able to go on a run once its roster is back to full strength; 2. Liriano needs time to rebuild his trade value, and it makes no sense to sell low on a guy who might return from the DL, string several quality starts together and net a much bigger return. Liriano is as streaky as they come, but when he's on, his stuff matches up with just about anybody and he's the type of talent contending teams typically overpay for at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
What about Ryan Tepera as a starter? He was a starter in his early days in the Minors (2010-13), so why isn't he being considered?
-- Lorne J., Edmonton, Alberta
Tepera is too far removed from his starting days to be considered a realistic option -- 2013 was a long time ago in baseball years, and at this point there's no turning back. His Minor League numbers as a starter also weren't that pretty and it's pretty evident he is best served as a max-effort, max-velocity-type pitcher who can be used in short stints. There's nothing wrong with that because he has begun to establish himself as a viable setup man and he has gained the trust of manager John Gibbons, who is now using him more regularly in high-leverage situations.
If the Blue Jays are out of it by July 31 and decide to become sellers, who are the most likely among their prospects to be called up this year?
-- Carlos G., New Jersey
No matter what happens, this likely won't be the year where there's a huge influx of players from the Minors. Rowdy Tellez could get a look later in the year. Right-hander Conner Greene would be another option depending on how he performs over the next couple of months. Alford and Smith Jr. have been up already and Pompey will eventually return. Other names to keep an eye on include Roemon Fields (.382/.443/.473 in 17 games for Triple-A Buffalo), Jason Leblebijian (.291/.379/.512 in 38 games for Buffalo) and Double-A catcher Reese McGuire, who has struggled with the bat so far this year (.216/.311/.373).