The Toronto Outfield: Will Pompey Erupt With Production?

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

The Toronto Blue Jays held on to just one outfield starter from last year’s opening day lineup, but when that person is Jose Bautista, the Jays still have some outfield production. The park plays up power — especially right-handed power — however outside of Bautista, don’t count on too many home runs. Rather than the long ball, expect speed from the Jays mostly new outfield.

Center Field
Dalton Pompey
Kevin Pillar

Left Field
Michael Saunders
Kevin Pillar
Steve Tolleson

Right Field
Jose Bautista
Kevin Pillar

Without Colby Rasmus or Melky Cabrera, potential playing time opens up for two speedy players center fielders: 22-year-old Dalton Pompey or Kevin Pillar. Pompey, rated as a plus runner by our own Kiley McDaniel — though McDaniel noted questions about Pompey’s bat — had just 56 plate appearances in Triple-A before the Jays called him up last season. He managed to appear in 17 games, stealing one base without being caught, but the small sample size doesn’t allow much evaluation. Pompey did draw four walks in his 43 plate appearances however he struck out 12 times. Pillar is still just 26 and has hit at every minor league stop along his way to the big league. His worst offensive showing was hitting only 10% better than his peers in Double-A back in 2012. Pillar’s success in the minors is yet to translate as last year in 122 PA’s he hit an uninspiring .267/.295/.397 in the majors. Factor in his one steal versus being caught twice and suddenly he may not have the inside track to be a full time starter. Count on Pompey getting the nod as the starter unless he posts an awful spring training as both he and Pillar strikeout their fair share, but Pompey has a track record of drawing walks at a double digit rate. Both own multiple 25+ steal seasons in the minors and given a full season should reach that number in the majors as well. The rate stats (other than walk rate) for either Pompey or Pillar won’t be great, but for a waiver wire type outfielder, playing time in a quality lineup and 20 steal upside isn’t too shabby. Drafting Pompey seems a bit premature, even if he is the starter, as lots of other options are available for outfielders.

Michael Saunders is finally free of Safeco Field! He figures to be the starting left fielder for the Jays and their much more hitter friendly park. Even in a less-than-ideal hitting environment last year, Saunders hit a tidy 26% above league average yet managed just eight home runs. His home run totals are on a three year decline, mostly due to his plate appearances being reduced due to various injuries, but his 13.1% HR/FB rate last year was above the 9.5% league average rate. Him posting a 20 home run season isn’t too far fetched and in my latest mock draft, Saunders went in the 23rd round, a great deal for a starting corner outfielder. Backing up Saunders to various degrees is Tolleson and perhaps Chris Colabello or one or more of the trio of Caleb Gindl, Andy Dirks and Ezequiel Carrera. Colabello was a waiver acquisition and the latter three all secured minor league deals. Carrera is another guy with a ton of speed, coming off of back-to-back 40+ steal seasons in Triple-A. His path could be blocked by Pompey and Pillar but don’t sleep on Carrera as there is a small chance he shocks the world and grabs the CF job. Dirks missed the vast majority of last season following back surgery and Gindl would be a platoon player at best given his minor league splits. With all due respect to Tolleson et al they aren’t fantasy relevant in all but the deepest of leagues (save for a small chance with Carrera) . They’ll run into the rare home run, but that isn’t the price you’ll pay for their poor rate stats as none figure to be a league average bat going forward.

After back-to-back injury shortened years in 2012-13, Bautista came roaring back last season with another 30+ homer season and his typically great on-base percentage in 155 games. He had more walks than strikeouts last year — 104 to 96, not including 11 intentional walks — en route to his third season of 100 runs and 100 RBIs. Look for him to repeat his counting stats though he may not hit .286 again, but back down to his .270ish norm. Bautista is still worthy of an early pick or his premium price in auction leagues. Note that Pillar will most likely wind up with playing time at all three outfield positions, assuming he loses the starting CF gig to Pompey, and Pillar could get enough PA’s to be valuable due to his legs alone. He could be a useful guy off the waiver wire so keep an eye on the spring training battle as whoever doesn’t win the starting CF position will likely play a considerable role as a fourth outfielder/pinch runner due to injury prevention concerns in both corners.

After Bautista the talent drops off, though that could be said for nearly every other outfield in baseball, but Saunders remains a solid late round pick. Both Pompey and Pillar offer enough speed to be interesting picks off of the waive wire, as does Carrera if he is given a shot, but don’t count on an explosive year from Pompey.





You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.

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everdiso
Member
everdiso

last year, age 21:

A+: 317pa, 11.0bb%, 17.7k%, .152iso, .319avg, 150wrc+
AA: 127pa,11.0bb%, 14.2k%, .179iso, .295avg, 138wrc+
AAA: 56pa, 5.4bb%, 17.9k%, .094iso, .358avg, 137wrc+
MLB: 43pa, 9.3bb%, 27.9k%, .205iso, .231avg, 204wrc+

Total: 543pa, 10.3bb%, 17.7k%, .157iso, .310avg, 142wrc+

and you’re telling me he has great dpeed, too?

giddyup.

everdiso
Member
everdiso

*MLB: 104wrc+*

*speed*

Steven
Guest
Steven

Babip’s please.

Alex
Guest
Alex

His career babip is .308

everdiso
Member
everdiso

babip last year was .361. pretty typical for a top prospect in the minors.