John Gibbons, in an interview last week, said that 'if the season were starting now', Dalton Pompey would be his center fielder.
It has been a much debated question if that is a good plan or not.
Those against it will point out that Dalton started last season in Dunedin and played 70 games there, then moved to New Hampshire, played just 31 games there, then moved to Buffalo and played 12 games, before being a September call up to the Jays. Being the presumed starting center fielder, after playing just 43 games above A-ball is pretty aggressive promotion. He is just 21 (22 next month). For a top draft pick, it wouldn't be all that unusual, but for someone picked in the 16th round, that's a much more unusual. Those types usually have to prove themselves at each level on the way up the ladder.
In recent times, the Jays have been very leery about moving prospects quickly through the system, not wanting to cause problems with their development. For some reason, I tend to think that's more of a worry with pitchers than batters, but it has been the way the Jays have been doing things, at least until this past season. To me, moving guys up quickly isn't that much of a worry as long as they show good things.
What worries me is, if they install him as the starting center fielder, the Jays don't have a great track record of patience. I'd be worried that Dalton will have a handful of bad at bats and get sent back down. In Gibby's first time with the Jays, they brought Adam Lind up, he went 1 for 19 and he was send back down. If the Jays start the season with Pompey in CF, I hope they will have the strength of conviction to keep playing him for at least 300 at bats. I don't want him learning to worry that any time he has a bad game or two, he'll be sent back to the minors. Last season
Lind, Travis Snider and others were brought up and sent down far too often. It had to be hard on their self-esteem and confidence. I hope we don't do the same with Pompey. If they decide to give him the job, I hope they say to him 'don't worry about your stats, we promise to keep you in the lineup at least until June, just go out there and play, we have faith in you'. And then stick to their word.
Course, maybe the Jays are saying that Dalton has the job to light a fire under Anthony Gose. Make Gose work hard all winter and then come to spring training ready to fight for the job. I do think that Gose and Pillar could make a decent enough platoon in CF that the Jays could give Pompey a couple of months in Buffalo to be sure he is ready.
Anyway let's have a poll.