* OF Dalton Pompey, who is currently plying his trade in the Arizona Fall League, hasn’t yet had the time to let his accomplishments this year sink in, including his recently-won Randy Echlin Award as CBN’s top Canadian offensive player. The Oakville Royals grad topped the 100 Canadians in hits.
By Alexis Brudnicki
MESA, Ariz. – It’s going to take a little more time for Dalton Pompey’s big year to sink in.
A lot has happened for the 21-year-old outfielder since June, as he moved from the Class-A Florida State League to Double-A, Triple-A and then finally to the big leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays in September. Then, after a two-day break, he flew out to the Arizona Fall League. It’s understandable that he hasn’t had time to reflect on any of it.
“I’ve sat down for a few seconds and thought about it, but for the most part, no, it hasn’t [resonated],” Pompey said. “I’m still go, go, go, but I’m just into the off-season and I’ve already got young kids messaging me and asking me for advice and stuff like that.
“That’s when it really starts to sink in. It’s like I was there and I made an impact, not only for myself and the team but also young kids, especially from Canada, who have that same dream as me.”
After hitting .317/.392/.469 with nine home runs, nine triples, 22 doubles, 84 runs and 51 RBIs through three levels in the minors, not only did Pompey get his first call up to the majors but he also earned this year’s Randy Echlin Memorial Award, presented by the Canadian Baseball Network to the top offensive Canadian minor leaguer, the best of the 100 Canucks in the minors. Knowing firsthand how much talent hails from north of the border, the honour holds special meaning for the outfielder.
“I don’t know exactly how many guys were in the minor leagues this year from Canada, but I’m sure there are quite a few of us,” Pompey said. “To be the top guy, that just proves to me that after all the hard work and dedication I’ve put in for the past five years that it’s actually starting to pay off, obviously with the results, but also in the process of making that happen.”
Though it occasionally slips his mind how meaningful it can be for those on the outside to see a local player work all the way up to the Toronto Blue Jays roster, Pompey is often reminded.
“Sometimes I forget [I’m Canadian] to be honest, just because I’m always around Americans all the time,” he said. “I’m always reminded from my brother [Tristan] and from people back home, and to be that role model figure to players at home who tell me they look up to me, it’s definitely awesome knowing my hard work is paying off, not only for myself but for other people.”
Even though Pompey’s first shot in The Show came right at home, just down the road from where he grew up in Mississauga, Ont., he hasn’t yet had a chance to celebrate the occasion with his family and friends.
His parents, Valerie and Ken, made it to all of his games at Rogers Centre, between working their regular jobs and trying to keep up with 17-year-old Tristan, but the family of four was too busy to sit down together and enjoy the moment.
“I will probably save that for when I go back home,” Pompey said. “I was home but I didn’t really have that much time to do anything. Then I had two days off before I came here. My parents were working but they came to every game. Right after they were done work they came to the games and stuff like that. It was nice, but I’m sure we’ll do something in the off-season.”
The Pompey family has a lot to celebrate this winter when they are afforded the chance, with Dalton’s obvious successes and Tristan making the Canadian Junior National Team roster for the first time during the squad’s fall trip to Orlando to face instructional league competition.
Following in the early footsteps of his older brother, Tristan appears to be on a similar track as a switch-hitting outfielder with speed, an arm, and room to grow after high school. He is doing his best to carve his own path in the game, and Dalton is definitely one of the most excited for his brother’s future.
“I was proud of him because I felt like he felt like he had pressure on himself because of what I did,” Dalton said of Tristan making the national squad. “I played on Team Canada and I got drafted and all that stuff, and I felt like it got to the point where he was talking to me and saying, ‘Man, I’m never going to be as good as you.’
“It was just all that buildup, but he’s creating his own path for himself. He worked hard and he got there himself. He put in the work and I know he did, both in the weight room and with my dad and hitting. He wanted it and he pushed himself. I’m proud of him for that and hopefully he can take the next step and continue to get better and see where it goes.”
There was a time when Tristan wanted to separate himself from his older sibling, but with some big-league time under Dalton’s belt, he’s realized sharing a surname can’t hurt him and he is reciprocally proud of his brother’s accomplishments.
“It’s brought a lot more attention,” Tristan said earlier this season. “A lot more people ask, ‘You’re Pompey’s little brother, right?’…It’s kind of cool because he’s on the Blue Jays, so it’s something to be proud of, that I’m his brother. I embrace it now.”
Dalton believes his successes might even offer chances to Tristan that he didn’t have when he was where his brother currently is, before being selected by Blue Jays’ Canadian scout, Jamie Lehman, in the 16th round of the 2010 draft out of John Fraser Secondary School.
“It helps that I played in the major leagues and he has the same name as me, so people who know me will know him now,” the elder Pompey sibling said. “I feel like it gives him more opportunities, more than I had at least, and he’ll get a few extra looks that I didn’t get.”
When the Arizona Fall League comes to an end in mid-November, the Pompeys should have a chance to sit back and enjoy their time together and realize what they’ve accomplished over the last several months.
“By the end of it, I was making diving catches and hitting home runs [in Toronto], and I was like, ‘where is this coming from?’” he said of the experience. “It was one of those things where I really had to try to enjoy the experience as if I’m never going to experience it again and just try to soak it up and realize that after all my hard work and being a 16th-round pick from Canada, I actually made it and I was playing for my hometown team. It was really special.”
– Follow Alexis Brudnicki on Twitter @baseballexis