With the acquisition of Drew Storen came a wave of new possibilities for the Jays lineup next season. The move has impacts on a plethora of Blue Jays including notables Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna, but also youngster and former top prospect Dalton Pompey.
A week ago, Pompey was a likely candidate for starting another season in the minor leagues. In front of Pompey, on the depth chart, was Kevin Pillar, Jose Bautista, Ben Revere and Michael Saunders. It would be hard to break up an outfield that carried the Jays to the ALCS. But they did, shipping out Revere, providing the chance for Pompey to earn a spot next season.
It's unclear what exactly this role could be for Pompey. With Pillar's defense and the likelihood that Saunders is finally ready to take on a full-time role, Pompey may become the fourth outfielder. At that point, the Jays might prefer he play in Triple-A and get regular at-bats than have him sit for a majority of the MLB season, playing sparingly in a platoon or bench player situation.
In the past, the Jays have employed at least three outfielders for 60 or more games throughout the 162 game campaign. Dating back to 2010, the Jays have used at least four outfielders for 60 or more games four times, meaning that, if Pompey were to be number four, he likely would play at least 60 games.
Coincidentally, that's exactly what Fangraphs' Steamer projection system has him pegged at. In 62 games, they project him to hit .261/.322/.387, which would be a comforting sight for Jays' fans.
Last season Pompey started with the big league club but struggled. In 23 games, he hit just .192/.264/.337 before he was promptly demoted to Double-A New Hampshire. There he cleaned up his game and was promoted to Triple-A where he hit .285/.322/.356, earning himself a September call-up. Although he played in only 10 games down the stretch, Pompey excelled and hit .455, using his speed to land himself on the playoff roster.
This season, Pompey's playing time will depend largely upon a trio of factors. First, can he prove that he is major league ready? Second, will Saunders be able to stay healthy after missing nearly all of last season to a knee injury? Last, are the Jays comfortable with Pompey being the fourth outfielder, or is there another plan in mind?
Given his history, Saunders will be likely to miss time due to some type of injury. Scroll through his injury history on Baseball Prospectus and you'll see a litany of injuries ranging from oblique strains to labrum surgery in 2008. He's spent time on the DL in two of the last three seasons so it's possible Pompey will have to pick up the slack from Saunders if the injury bug bites once again in 2016.
Of course, Pompey will have to prove that he is worthy of the position, outplaying the likes of Junior Lake and Ezequiel Carrera this spring. The Jays will want to ensure that if Pompey starts in Toronto, he doesn't yo-yo between the minor leagues and Toronto the way he did last season.
If he's ready, the position is ripe for the taking. With the departure of Revere, Pompey is one step closer to having a chance to become what we hoped he'd be when he was top prospect.
Will 2016 be the year it comes to fruition?