Blue Jays Arizona Fall League overview

Pompey identifying strengths, weaknesses as development continues

Blue Jays Arizona Fall League overview

For outfielder Dalton Pompey, the 2014 season was a whirlwind tour of the Blue Jays Minor League system. He began at Class A Advanced Dunedin and sped through Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo, with a side trip thrown in to Target Field in Minnesota for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Pompey, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, ultimately earned a promotion to the Major Leagues when rosters expanded in September. He played in 17 games for Toronto and checked off several firsts in the big leagues, including hitting his first home run.

After the Major League season ended last month, Pompey had just a few days off before the start of the Arizona Fall League, where he is one of eight Blue Jays playing for Mesa. That breather gave him a chance to appreciate his memorable year.

"The couple days off that I had in between the end of the big league season and here, I kind of had to pinch myself a little bit just because of how great of a season it's been," Pompey said. "It's not over yet."

Pompey, ranked No. 88 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, was one of the breakout stars in the Minor Leagues as his considerable tools turned into top-level production. In 113 Minor League games across three levels, Pompey hit .317/.392/.469 with nine home runs and 43 stolen bases.

Before this season, Pompey, 21, had never played above the Midwest League. As he moved up the ladder this year, he saw better and more experienced competition, culminating with his first look at Major League pitching. Pompey hit .231/.302/.436 with four walks and 12 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances with the Blue Jays.

Pompey said that brief time in the big leagues served two purposes.

"One, it makes me even more hungry to get there, because I've had a little taste of it and of course I want to go back," Pompey said. "That's my main goal, to stay there. But also I learned a lot about myself, what I need to work on offensively."

Playing in the AFL allows Pompey an extended opportunity to continue his development before the offseason begins. He said playing in the big leagues taught him the importance of playing to his strengths, even as pitchers attack the flaws in his game.

But Pompey knows he also has to shore up his weaknesses. To that end, he said he wants to use the AFL to work on his discipline and approach at the plate.

"I'm using this opportunity to work on the things that I need to work on and not being so honed in on the results as much, because those things take time," Pompey said. "I'm just trying to use this and hopefully propel me into a bigger role next year with the team."

Blue Jays hitters in the AFL

• The Blue Jays' 18th-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Jon Berti advanced to New Hampshire this year. His line-drive stroke and speed make him a fit at the top of the order. Berti has primarily been a second baseman in the Minor Leagues, but began getting occasional work in the outfield this season. He could end up fitting best as a super-utility player.

• Catcher Sean Ochinko was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program last August, sidelining him for much of this season. Once he got back on the field, he played in just 24 games between Buffalo and New Hampshire. After catching part time at LSU, Ochinko moved to the position full time when the Blue Jays drafted him in the 11th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and has since made considerable progress behind the plate.

• Outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr., whose father played eight years in the big leagues, had a breakout season with Dunedin this year. Playing alongside Pompey, he also earned a spot on the Florida State League All-Star team and finished the year with career bests in several offensive categories. Smith has primarily played left field in the Minor Leagues, though he doesn't fit the typical profile. His speed and line-drive stroke give him a chance to be at least a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

Blue Jays pitchers in the AFL

• Signed as an undrafted free agent out of San Jose State in 2011, right-hander Blake McFarland advanced to New Hampshire this year. He throws his low-90s fastball from an overhand angle, making good use of his big, 6-foot-5 frame. McFarland mixes it with a slurvy breaking ball and an occasional changeup. A former starter, he's capable of working multiple innings and profiles best in middle relief.

• A groin injury forced Sean Nolin to spend part of the first half on the disabled list. When he was healthy he pitched well for Buffalo and made it to Toronto for the second consecutive year when he was called up in September. A command-and-control lefty, Nolin throws his fastball around 90 mph. His changeup is his best pitch and he also throws a slider and curveball.

• Right-hander Roberto Osuna underwent Tommy John surgery last year and returned to the mound in July, a little less than a year later. He's still recovering his stuff after the injury, but at his best, Osuna throws his fastball in the low- to mid-90s. His slider and changeup are both quality offerings. Osuna is 19 years old, making him the youngest pitcher in the AFL, but he has a better feel for his craft than most teenagers.

• The Blue Jays' 36th-round pick in 2011, right-hander Arik Sikula saved 31 games for Dunedin this season, the second most in the Minor Leagues. His fastball sits around 90 mph and he commands it well. His deceptive over-the-top delivery and solid slider have led to big strikeout totals in the low Minors. Sikula is unlikely to continue to close as he advances toward Toronto, but the AFL gives him an opportunity to prove himself against more advanced hitters.

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.