"I don't really consider myself to be a power guy," Dalton Pompey
said. "I'm usually a top of the order kind of guy. I need to get on base and other guys need to drive me in, so I need to get in scoring position. By that, I need to use my legs and steal bases and make things happen."
The 18-year-old outfielder from Mississauga, Ont., is currently on the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays' squad, having gotten playing time in each of the team's 22 games this season.
"I started off pretty slow and probably in the last two weeks I started to pick it up a bit," stated Pompey. "I'm pretty satisfied the way I've been playing now. Towards the beginning of the season, it was frustrating, but it's starting to work itself out."
Pompey, who stands at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, enters Saturday's game batting .218 on the year, with one home run and two RBI. His bat has started to become more consistent, however, as he's hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. With an on base percentage 100 points higher than his batting average, along with seven stolen bases, it's important for Pompey to get on base to fully employ his abilities.
"He's got to utilize all parts of his tools," GCL Batting Coach Paul Elliot said. "A lot of his tools [are] his speed, and so he needs to develop a good on base percentage as they all do, but him in particular, and he can utilize that tool he's got."
Elliot said that Pompey's game is similar to long-time Anaheim Angels' outfielder Garret Anderson, a good sign considering Anderson is a three-time MLB All-Star. Unlike Anderson, though, who batted solely left-handed, Pompey can hit from either side.
"He's a good switch hitter. He hits well from both sides," Elliot said. "As long as he keeps developing the way he is, he's gonna be a threat to a lot of teams."
Having 20 more at bats against righties than lefties, Pompey said he is more comfortable hitting from the left side of the plate. He works to maintain consistency with his at bats from each side of the dish, if not in a live game, then in the batting cages.
"I try to keep them as even as possible, so say I get a lot of reps left-handed, then I'll try to get some right-handed," he said. "Sometimes it's the opposite. Sometimes it's just a lot of right-handed pitching, so then I have to get my reps in left-handed. I always want them to try to be close to equal."
As for hitting offspeed pitches, something that is usually difficult for young hitters, different pitches trouble Pompey from different sides of the plate.
"Left-handed, the changeup is one of the pitches that I guess you could say I struggle with. I struggle to identify. Fastballs, sliders, I'm usually pretty good with," Pompey explained. "Right-handed, it's probably the two-seam fastball; anything going away is pretty tough on me. I have my weaknesses, but I try to work on them."
In the outfield, as Pompey's arm strength has grown since he was drafted, so has his confidence on defense. Coach Elliot said that Pompey's defense is good, but needs to get better.
"His actions are not very good at the minute, but we're working on that. It's coming around," Elliot said. "He can go get it in the outfield, tracks the ball pretty good. He has to learn more about the outfield plays, how to recognize swings of a hitter and just get himself a bit better than what he's doing."
Pompey is in just his first full season as a pro player. However, he's aware of having to improve all aspects of his game, and has his goals set on making his way up through the Blue Jays' organization one, or even two, steps at a time.
"I just want to really get better and make improvements so I can move up depending on how well I do, but to me, it's just a process," he said. "I gotta go put my time in, put the hard work, effort in at this level. Then, the next level, the goal is to move up one level at a time, maybe two. You never know."
Dalton Pompey is a switch-hitter, has a smaller frame, finds a way to get on base and poses a threat to the opposition when he does so. Pompey, the Blue Jays' 16th round pick in last year's Major League Baseball draft, has the makeup of a top of the lineup hitter, and he sees himself as exactly that.
Dalton Pompey, who got off to a rough start, is making the in-game adjustments lately.