Pompey burning bases, Scout ranks Jays prospects

* Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) had a week to remember being presented with his Rawlings gold glove from 2013, winning the class-A Florida State League Player of the Week and earning Canadian Baseball Network Minor League POW honours. Photo: Eddie Michels. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2015 Canadian draft list


Previous weeks: Matt Boyd.

By Bob Elliott

Dalton Pompey was presented with his 2013 Rawlings gold glove award Sunday night before Dunedin’s win over Clearwater.

And the Mississauga outfielder earned Florida State player of the week honours on Monday.

And so he was asked Monday night what did he have planned next?

“Just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Pompey from Dunedin.

What he has been doing one month into the season is fill gaps with line drives, steal bases and drop bunts for base hits. He’s hitting .358 with seven extra-base hits, a .927 OPS and is 14-for-14 stealing bases.

And on Wednesday he earned Canadian Baseball Network minor league player of the week  honours the best of the 54 Canadians in the minors.

And the three doubles, three triples, one homer and four bunt base hits have come from both sides of the plate.

The idea to switch hit came from a place a lot of good ideas come from: mom.

Valerie and husband Ken Pompey were living in Coquitlam, B.C. when young Dalton was playing a lot of soccer, getting hurt “sliding and running into people, playing too physically,” and mom was reading.

“My mom read in a magazine that it was better for youngsters to learn switch hit,” Pompey said. So he began hitting left-handed and then a week later started hitting from the right side, his natural side.

Born in Mississauga, Pompey and family lived on the coast, Ottawa and Mississauga again where he played for the Oakville Royals and Jays scout Jamie Lehman made him a 16th round pick in the 2010 draft.

Now, he’s getting honours every day, or so it seems. And besides mom, he’s had some good teachers.

Last fall at instructional league and again this spring he’s been getting big-time pointers from Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar and his Hall of Fame father Sandy Alomar on bunting and Tim Raines on base stealing. All three, like Pompey, were switch hitters and have shared their experiences with the youngster.

“Robbie and Sandy have given me confidence to lay down a bunt,” said Pompey. Farm director Doug Davis and the Alomars suggested the speedy Pompey add the weapon to his arsenal last fall to changed the defences. “They’re really patient, they’re not pushy. Whenever they have a chance they tell me to believe in myself.”

The Alomars worked on bunting in the cage off the machine and on the field Sandy threw batting practice.

“Robbie would tell me I don’t have to be too fine with the bunt and not be in such a hurry, don’t be running out of box, place the bunt, then run,” said Pompey, who had three bunt hits left-handed and one right-handed.

Twice he bunted for a hit with the bases and the other two in a sacrifice situations his bunt was so good he beat it out.

“Tim is here now, he’s says stealing is all about first-step quickness,” said Pompey, “he tells me to drive with my legs and stay low. He said it is good to run early in the count to give the guy a chance to drive you in.”

Bunting is one reason his average is .100 points higher but more important is a change in attitude after he struck out 106 times in 437 at-bats at Lansing hitting .261.

“Consistency is better this year,” he says, “a year ago something negative would happen -- a strikeout in the first inning -- and it would affect my whole day. This year it’s OK. If I strike out first time up, I have the rest try to be as consistent as possible.”

Another difference between 2013 and this season are the crowds. Lansing averaged 5,231 fans last year, while Dunedin’s average is 808.

“We played in Tampa the other night there were 40 or 41 people there,” he said. “I can’t worry how many people are in the seats. Eventually I hope to play in front of larger crowds.”

Pompey’s best friend is roommate Dwight Smith, Jr. and when he turned 21 in December he joined Smith and his father, also named Dwight Smith in Atlanta visiting Buckhead. Smith, now 50, spent eight years in the majors with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, California Angels and Baltimore Orioles and according to Pompey “is cool.”

“I’m mentally preparing myself with a routine that will stick with me and understanding my game, as well as adding bunting into my game,” said Pompey.

If the awards are any standard, Pompey has passed the test to date.

Down on the farm:

At Buffalo: RHP Marcus Stroman has a 1.69 ERA in his first five starts with seven walks and 36 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings ... OF Kevin Pillar has a 12-game consecutive hitting streak, batting .391 (17-for-46) over that stretch.

At NH: RHP Aaron Sanchez is 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts with 15 walks and 27 strikeouts in 30 innings ... Former No. 1 pick RHP Deck McGuire is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA walking eight and fanning 24 in 33 2/3 innings.

At Dunedin: LHP Daniel Norris is 3-0 in five starts with an 0.75 ERA walking six and whiffing 26 in 24 innings ... LHP Matt Boyd earned pitcher of the week in two of the first three weeks giving up one run with five walks, 37 strikeouts in 31 innings (0.29 ERA) earning him a promotion to New Hampshire.

At Lansing: RHP Kendall Graveman has an 0.34 ERA in four starts allowing one earned run as he’s walked six and struck out 25 in 26 1/3 innings ... 3B Mitch Nay is hitting .282 with six doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs in 23 games this season.


Power Rankings

A veteran player personnel executive gives us his top 10 Blue Jays prospects one month into the season:

10. INF Dawel Lugo, Lansing.

“Only 19 and already in Lansing, Has a good future, he could play second base or short, it depends on what they need.”

9. Roberto Osuna, extended spring.

“He’s a sleeper for me, coming off Tommy John surgery, has a great knowledge of pitching, good curve ball, outstanding fastball. Should be going full speed ahead in July.”

8. C A.J. Jiminez, New Hampshire.

“Was at Buffalo, his throwing is coming along good.”

7. LHP Daniel Norris, Dunedin.

“They’ll promote him soon, because of his youth, probably a better prospect than Sean Nolin at triple-A.”

6. RHP Roberto Espinosa, Lansing.

“Good velocity, strong arm has a chance to have a plus breaking ball.”

5. LHP Sean Nolin, Buffalo.

“More than a strikeout per inning and sub 2.00 ERA.”

4. OF Dalton Pompey, Dunedin.

“A strong major league prospect, only 21, with some good ability.”

3. 3B Mitch Nay, Lansing.

“Far away from the big league, but far and away the best power guy in the system, big and strong, my kind of guy.”

2. RHP Marcus Stroman

“He can bring it, I like him as a reliever, others as a starter, but we all like him.”

1. RHP Aaron Sanchez

“Definitive top of line, top of the pile, they had plans to have him there by June 1 but he’s had some ups and downs.”