January 3, 2014
In April, the Lansing Lugnuts’ welcomed back outfielder Dalton Pompey. The Mississauga, Ontario native finished up his 2012 season in the Midwest League, but 2013 was a new challenge as the 21-year old was taking on his first full season.
Challenge or not, however, Pompey did not disappoint. The 21-year-old batted .261 with a .752 OPS, 22 doubles, nine triples and 38 stolen bases. Even more, he played 114 games playing all three outfield positions in Lansing, making eight outfield assists and failing to commit an error. His superb defensive skills enabled him to become one of nine minor leaguers to receive a Minor League Gold Glove award. Pompey states he was honored to receive the award and was thankful his defensive skills was able to support the 2013 Lugnuts.
“Defensively I figure if I’m not hitting, the coach can always put me in the outfield and have confidence in me to still help the team,” Pompey stated. ““Truthfully, I feel that it is a strong suit of mine. I’m lucky as I don’t practice my defense as much as my offense, because you can never be too good offensively.”
Pompey’s hard work, however, did enable him to find improvement in 2013 at the plate. The switch-hitter started the first half of 2013, batting .243 with 12 doubles, seven triples, 20 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases. His performance enabled him to earn a spot on the Midwest League All-Star team.
Evidently it was a game the young prospect will always remember. During the event on June 18th in Dayton, Ohio, Pompey entered the game late and ended up hitting the walk-off RBI single to give the East division a 6-5 victory at Fifth-Third Field.
“The All-Star game was incredible. I got to meet some new guys plus play in the game late and got the game winning hit. That was fun and even more special because my mom was there and she got to enjoy the experience as well,” Pompey stated. “I faced the pitcher before so I knew what pitches he had. I went to the plate prepared and loose, knowing that even though the game doesn’t count for anything, you still wanted to win and do well. I told myself to stay calm and find a pitch I could hit. And that’s what I did.”
“The dugout celebrated like we just won the World Series. They came over and were jumping on me. It was good. It was fun.”
Using the walk off hit as a springboard to a great finish, Pompey’s numbers would soar in the second half as he batted .280 with 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 20 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.
He also showed a lot of power late in the season as he hit four home runs in the season’s final week. Not known as a power hitter, what made Pompey’s six home runs more special was that two of them were grand slams. The first one came on July 24th versus Dayton, becoming Pompey’s first home run on the season and his first ever grand slam. Again, his positive experience on the field can also be attributed to sharing it with his family as his brother was at the game to witness the event.
“Having my brother at the game was cool. I don’t think he’s seen me hit a home run in a long time and for it to be a grand slam, and my first ever grand slam, was very special to me. It was very cool for him to witness it and be able to share in the moment with me.”
His second grand slam came on August 28th at Lake County. What made this one special was that, unlike his first, it was hit from the left-side of the plate, thus completing the unique feat of hitting a grand slam from both sides of the plate in the same season.
“The grand slams are cool. I never thought I’d be able to hit one from both sides of the plate in the same year. It just happened,” he added.
Looking back on the season as a whole, Pompey also shared another memorable game, stating that August 26th was a special game for him as he hit two home runs in a single game. He completed the accomplishments once as a member of the GCL Blue Jays, but stated that achieving it in Lansing had a different feel.
“Hitting two home runs in one game was my favorite moment in Lansing. I had done it once before in my career, but to get two home runs right-handed at this level felt very good.”
Pompey’s successful season came as little surprise to Lugnuts’ Hitting Coach Kenny Graham who has worked with Pompey for three seasons.“Pompey is the spark at the top of the lineup, Graham said. “When Dalton goes well it sparks the rest of the team up and gets the team into the game more.”
“It’s his first full season and he has been bit by the injury bug a bit in his career, but we’re glad he’s here and can come to the field every day to work hard and compete. He has been a tremendous asset to our team.”
With the Lugnuts’ season in the books, Pompey is focused on his off-season In Mississauga as he looks to get stronger for 2014.
“In the off-season I do a lot of weight lifting five days a week but I make sure to take the weekends off. Last year, I focused more on my legs, but this year I’m going to focus more on my arms, upper body, and my hands. I feel like my hands and wrists were getting a little tired towards the end of the season. I also want to keep working on the mental side of the game as well.”
Seeing Pompey’s success in 2013 and his dedication this off-season, one can only hope that Pompey finds even more success in 2014 and his future career with the Blue Jays.