* Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) and the rest of the Blue Jays will leave the Rogers Centre Sunday night on a charter for Baltimore … and two days later his younger brother Tristan Pompey and the rest of the competitors in the second annual Tournament 12 will arrive.
By Melissa Couto
Tristan Pompey will see a familiar name among the Blue Jays’ lockers when he and his Tournament 12 teammates take a tour of the Toronto clubhouse next week.
Printed in white block letters on a blue strip above one of the stalls, “Pompey 45,” will be staring right at him.
Dalton Pompey, Tristan’s older brother by five years, made his big league debut with the Blue Jays as a pinch runner on Sept. 2, and in his first at-bat knocked in a run earlier this week at Rogers Centre.
“I’ll be able to see the Pompey name on the locker and it will mean a lot,” said Tristan, who’ll suit up for the Ontario Green team at the second annual showcase in Toronto from Sept. 16-20. “(I’m) hoping my name will be up there beside his too someday.”
That day could happen relatively soon as Tristan, a former Oakville Royal who now mans the outfield for the Toronto Mets, is eligible for the 2015 MLB draft.
Next week’s Tournament 12 will be a step in the right direction for the Mississauga, Ont., native, who’ll have professional and collegiate scouts evaluating him alongside the best young players from across the country at the four-day showcase.
T12 will also mark Tristan’s first time playing live games at Rogers Centre, the home of his (now) favorite MLB team — he grew up as a New York Mets fan because of his admiration for Jose Reyes, (who now plays for Toronto) but switched allegiances once the Blue Jays drafted his brother in 2010.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Tristan said about playing on the major league turf. “It’s really amazing to be part of a huge showcase event like T12.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the talent from all over Canada and how my skills and abilities compare to theirs.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Dalton was in Tristan’s shoes, hoping to impress scouts at various showcases. Now he’s in the big leagues, wearing the same jersey worn by his childhood idols.
Prior to his call-up to the Toronto club on Sept. 1, the older Pompey split the 2014 season between three levels, starting at high-A Dunedin before rapidly rising through the Blue Jays’ ranks.
He hit .317 with a .392 on-base percentage and 43 stolen bases through 113 minor league games from Dunedin to Buffalo.
With his younger brother currently entering a key stage in his baseball life, Dalton is hoping his impressive year can serve as inspiration.
“I think that’s good that he’s getting his opportunity with Tournament 12 while I’m here in big leagues,” the 21-year-old said prior to a game at Rogers Centre earlier this week. “It gives him motivation that he can make it here too. He can take the same path as me if he keeps at it and keeps working hard.
“People are going to see what happened with me and think he can do it too, so it could definitely open up doors for him.”
While Tristan admits he’s been motivated by having Dalton in the big leagues, he also says his brother’s success could make things more difficult for him down the road.
“I’ve always known it’s possible to get to the major leagues but I don’t want to get overconfident and say it will be easy for me to get there because my brother did,” he said. “In fact, I’ll have to work twice as hard as him to be better than he was because I think that’s what’s expected — that the younger one is supposed to be better.
“I just want to stay humble and work hard and if all works out, I’ll be where he is in five or six years.”
Tristan hasn’t been able to make it to many games over the Blue Jays last home stand, nor has he seen much of his brother since Dalton’s been back home. Between homework and both brothers’ baseball commitments, Tristan says it’s been tough to sneak away.
But he did watch on television as Dalton got his first RBI in the big leagues last Wednesday.
“It was so exciting to see him up to bat,” Tristan said after that game. “Seeing him constantly growing and developing from when he was 10 years old, to now seeing him hitting in the majors, it’s very exciting.”
The two Pompey brothers have shared special moments together in the past, including Dalton’s draft day four years ago. Dalton, wanting to get his mind off things as he waited for his name to be called, was playing video games with a then 13-year-old Tristan when he heard he’d been selected by the Blue Jays in the 16th round.
As Dalton began his pro career — leaving home that summer as a 17-year-old to play a handful of games with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays — Tristan knew his brother was still just a phone call away.
And over the next four years, as Dalton grew from a late-round pick to a top prospect, Tristan watched with admiration and respect.
“I look up to my brother as a role model in baseball and in life,” Tristan said. “He teaches me a lot and he’s always there when I need advice or help with anything.
“To see him in a Blue Jays uniform now, it makes me realize that with hard work and dedication a dream can become reality after all.”
Dalton may be living out his dream on the biggest stage of his life, but he still keeps his little brother in the back of his mind.
Asked how it feels to have Tristan about to play on the same diamond he’s been able to call home for the last two weeks, Dalton couldn’t help but smile at the coincidence.
“We’ve talked about this day,” he said as he gazed out onto the Rogers Centre field. “We talked about how I could possibly be in the big leagues before he graduates and I am, so that’s pretty cool.
“Now Tristan is doing his thing, doing what he has to do to constantly get better. Hopefully he’s here with me one day.”
– Follow Melissa Couto on Twitter @throwinsmoke