With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Blue Jays squad each day this week. Today's topic -- Who might surprise?TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' roster seems relatively set, but the one major exception can be found in left field where
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Blue Jays squad each day this week. Today's topic -- Who might surprise?
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' roster seems relatively set, but the one major exception can be found in left field where playing time is still very much up for grabs.
Ezequiel Carrera and Melvin Upton Jr. project to open the season as a platoon in left, but there's still plenty of time for that to change. The person who might make it happen? Dalton Pompey.
First, let's get one thing straight. Pompey isn't the favorite for left field and there's the potential that the club will want to reward Carrera for his strong run last September by giving him the first crack at the job. But even if that happened, it shouldn't take much for Pompey to force his way onto the team. He really holds all of the cards.
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Pompey broke into the big leagues in 2014, so it's easy to forget that he's still just 24-years-old. He was rushed to the big leagues and then handed a starting job with people making comparisons to a young Vernon Wells. It was too much, too fast, too soon and it seemed like even Pompey knew it when he publicly questioned his own level of confidence in early May of 2015.
Since then, Pompey has been mostly relegated to the Minor Leagues and is coming off a full season in Triple-A Buffalo, in which he hit .270 with a .349 on-base percentage and 19 extra-base hits over 93 games despite a foot issue earlier in the year. It wasn't quite the year he wanted to have, but it at least got him moving in the right direction after the disappointing turn of events in 2015.
Considering his age, it would be foolish for anybody to write off Pompey this early in his career. Prior to 2015, he was ranked the 43rd best prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com and 30th by Baseball America. In 2014, over three levels of the Minors, he hit .317/.392/.469 with 40 extra-base hits and 43 stolen bases. The upside is clearly there, Pompey just needs to tap into it.
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A lot of the work the Blue Jays needed to do with Pompey involved the mental side of the game. Believing in himself again, changing his daily routines and having his focus squarely on the field instead of the distractions that can be found off of it. Nobody said it was easy to pick yourself up after being knocked to the ground, but Pompey has spent the last year trying to do just that.
A platoon of Carrera and Upton Jr. is not one that will ever be permanently locked into place. If Pompey forces the issue in Spring Training, or starts to show he's too good for the Minor Leagues earlier in the year, he might finally get that second chance he has now been waiting quite a long time for.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.