MLB Draft Preview: Tristan Pompey

The Blue Jays have quietly assembled a group of toolsy, athletic Outfielders, and may add another this June if local product Tristan Pompey is available with the 12th pick.

Pompey may seem like a reach at that point in the draft; many publications have him lower (Baseball America has him at 20th in their most recent rankings), but there are several reasons why he could be a fit for Toronto.

An ankle injury has limited Pompey’s playing time with Kentucky so far this spring to five starts and several pinch-hitting appearances, but he’s still managed to reach base in 44 straight games in a streak dating back to last year. Currently slotted behind fellow collegians Travis Swaggerty and Griffin Conine by BA, his lack of playing time has seen him fall behind his peers this spring.

Pompey was an All-American after an impressive sophomore year.  He was drafted by the Twins in 2015 in the 31st round, but opted to go the collegiate route.  A switch-hitter like his brother Dalton, the 6’4″ Pompey offers a speed and power mix that’s enticing to scouts.  He has the bloodlines, but he may offer more pop with his bat.

After a pedestrian freshman campaign at Kentucky, Pompey broke out in a big way last year, posting a 1.005 OPS.  A less than impressive summer in the Cape League may have taken away from that somewhat (although he was still the loop’s 6th-best prospect), but Pompey had elevated himself into the first round, according to veteran scout Ted Lekas, writing for 2080baseball.com:

Well-proportioned, athletic body with width to his shoulder and hips; five-tool player; open stance that closes at contact; quick bat; plus bat speed with a good trigger, gets bat through the hitting zone with quick hands and wrists; feel for the barrel; strength, loft and leverage to his swing; plus power potential; above-average runner out of the box and double-plus runner underway with good running stride; plus defensive actions seen in right field with good routes, jumps, and reads; plus range, glides to the ball; above-average arm with good carry; potential first-round tools for the 2018 MLB Draft who should hold down center field for the Wildcats; should be one of the top players in the SEC.

Jeff Ellis of Scout.com, who we spoke to regarding the draft from a Blue Jays perspective, is higher on Pompey than many other analysts.  Ellis points out that Pompey plays in the SEC, which is the best conference in college baseball:

When you compare his stats against a Travis Swaggerty who’s not facing the same level of competition, you wonder if you put Pompey in that conference what his numbers would be like.

Ellis saw a considerable amount of Pompey and teammate Evan White, who was a first-round selection of the Mariners last year, and said that Pompey was far and away the more impressive prospect.  Pompey works the count well, and while he’s played LF/RF primarily for the Wildcats, Ellis feels that he runs and reacts to batted balls well enough to become a serviceable CF.

At the plate, Pompey has an upright, slightly open stance.  There’s some movement in his bat prior to starting his load, and his swing can be long, but his hands are quick, and he takes a very fast, direct path to the ball.  He shows great feel for the barrel, and gets out of the box in a hurry:

There is some swing-and-miss to Pompey’s game:  a 27% K rate his freshman year, and a 23% clip so far this year.  But he has a proven track record, and as Ellis reminds, Toronto “values production.”  If he misses more time due to his ankle, Pompey may slide in the draft rankings, but there are many reasons to believe that he won’t move down the Blue Jays board.

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MLB Draft Preview #2 (From a Blue Jays Perspective)

tristan-pompey-2017-abr
Tristan Pompey – The K Zone photo

The Blue Jays are in a “sweet position” to grab a premium college Pitcher or Outfielder with the 12th pick in June’s draft, according to a noted amateur talent evaluator.

Jeff Ellis, the lead MLB draft analyst at Scout.com (you can read his most recent mock draft here), feels that given the preferences shown by the Blue Jays over the past two drafts, it’s more than likely that their top choice will come from the draft’s deep pool of arms or Outfielders.  After last year’s draft, Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders did agree that the longer track records of college players fits their draft preferences better than high schoolers, at least when it comes to their top picks.

Ellis feels this year’s draft may top the previous several years when it comes to depth:

I think we’re seeing more depth than in the past few years, which is surprising, because with the pool system I think we’re seeing less elite talent make it to the college ranks but I think college coaching on the whole has improved significantly, so we’re seeing more players get developed properly

The players that seem to fit the Blue Jays and their past history, according to Ellis, are Travis Swaggerty of South Alabama, Griffin Conine of Duke, and the Greater Toronto Area’s own Tristan Pompey of Kentucky in the Outfield, while Pitchers Ryan Rolison of Mississippi, Jackson Kowar of Florida, and Logan Gilbert of Stetson appear to have the right mix of skills and potential availability for the Blue Jays to consider.  Over the next week, we’ll profile each one of these players in more detail.

Baseball America released their Top 300 draft prospects last week, and had Florida HS Pitcher/Catcher Mason Denaburg ranked #12.  BA’s list, however, is not a mock, and it would be unlikely that the Blue Jays would select Denaburg, both given their aversion to prep players at the top of the draft, and the depth of Catching prospects they currently have in their system.

Ellis liked the Blue Jays draft last year, for the most part:

They took more players from my big board than any other team. They would often take guys one or two spots ahead of where I had them, so I like the players they took, but I didn’t love where they took them.

One thing that’s interesting about Conine, Rolison, and Swaggerty is that they’re young compared to the rest of their class.  The former pair doesn’t turn 20 until July 11th, while Swaggerty doesn’t until August.  More and more teams, according to Ellis, are using age relative to draft class:

When you look at a lot of guys in the minor this probably no better indicator of  when a player is significantly younger than the level he’s at and he’s finding success there – you have that extra time for development, and some teams just really buy into this.

Ellis feels that there’s enough depth in this draft that the Blue Jays will probably be able to land a premium talent in the second round (with the 52nd pick).  With their second pick last year,  Toronto stepped out of their college-player mode, and picked California two-way player Hagen Danner.  Danner was not that much of a reach, though as Ellis pointed out, “Danner fits with their approach because he was a Little League World Series hero and he’s been on their track record forever.”

As the draft progresses, Ellis suggests that the Blue Jays will be on the lookout for players with good track records whose stock has fallen this year.  Ryan Noda was thought to be at least a 3rd round pick last year, but a mediocre college season dropped him to the 15th round.  Noda, of course, tore up the Appalachian League, flirting with .400 until the final weeks of the season.

The Blue Jays value production, and the above names have proven histories in that regard.  After doing a decent job of restocking their system over the past two drafts, the Blue Jays have a chance to add some potential impact talent to their prospect base this year.

 

 

 

Early – Very – Look at the 2018 MLB Draft

NC State vs. Kentucky Lexington Regional
Cameron Mills Radio photo by Hunter Mitchell

Amateur scouts representing all MLB teams have been involved in meetings for the past few weeks in preparation for the June draft, and the Blue Jays are no exception.

With the 12th overall pick, the Blue Jays have a chance to land a player who could have an impact on the team in three to five years.

There is a Blue Jays connection with the player ranked the top draft prospect in RHP

Brady Singer, who the team took in the 2nd round of 2015.  The Florida high schooler opted to go the collegiate route, and as a consolation prize, they landed Bo Bichette with the comp pick the following year.

RHP Ethan Hankins had a strong showing with Team USA in the World U18s at Thunder Bay last year, and is a solid #2 – he may even become the first prep righty ever taken first overall.

Between now and June, of course, players will move up and down the Blue Jays draft board, but here are some names that are ranked in the neighbourhood of Toronto’s first round pick:

  1. OF Tristan Pompey Kentucky 

   The younger brother of the Blue Jays’ own Dalton has seen his stock rise considerably since first suiting up for the Wildcats three seasons ago.  The Mississauga native is currently ranked 21st by Baseball America.  And a report by veteran scout Ted Lekas of 2080baseball. com offered a glowing, toolsy assessment after watching Pompey in the Cape Cod League last summer:

Well-proportioned, athletic body with width to his shoulder and hips; five-tool player; open stance that closes at contact; quick bat; plus bat speed with a good trigger, gets bat through the hitting zone with quick hands and wrists; feel for the barrel; strength, loft and leverage to his swing; plus power potential; above-average runner out of the box and double-plus runner underway with good running stride; plus defensive actions seen in right field with good routes, jumps, and reads; plus range, glides to the ball; above-average arm with good carry; potential first-round tools for the 2018 MLB Draft who should hold down center field for the Wildcats; should be one of the top players in the SEC.

Given his current ranking, it would be a bit of a reach for the Blue Jays take him, but he does fit the profile of a high makeup, athletic, polished college player that they have shown a preference for in the early rounds.  A pre-season All -American, a good spring could raise his profile considerably.

2.  LHP Ryan Rolison Mississippi

If Pompey fits the Blue Jays’ bill for a first round pick, Rolison matches up with it even better.  A draft-eligible sophomore, Rollison was ranked the 3rd-best prospect in the Cape League last summer (Pompey was 6th).  Teddy Cahill of BA gave this evaluation:

Rolison combines good size–a listed 6-foot-3, 200 pounds–with premium stuff from the left side. His fastball sits 91-94 mph, and he pairs it with a wipeout curveball. Both pitches generate swings and misses, and he also mixes in a useful changeup and slider. He fills up the strike zone and had success pitching inside to righthanded batters. Rolison will be a draft-eligible sophomore in next year’s draft and is on track to be the first first-rounder from Ole Miss since Drew Pomeranz was picked fifth overall in 2010.

3.  RHP Logan Gilbert, Stetson

Gilbert was the Cape’s 4th best prospect, who features premium velocity from a loose, easy delivery.  At 6’5″/195, he gets good downward movement on his pitches, and has considerable projection remaining.  MLB Pipeline’s report:

Gilbert is coming into his own, with room to grow into his prototypical pitcher’s body. He’ll throw his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, touching 97 mph. He has the chance to have at least three above-average to plus pitches, as his newer slider and changeup both have the chance to be outstanding offerings, while the curve might be a touch behind. A position player in high school, Gilbert is a solid athlete who fields his position and repeats his delivery well, which should lead to solid command.

 


There are several high school players ranked around the 12 spot – Wisconsin high school OF Jarred Kelenic gets the nod on MLB Pipeline, while BA has Florida prep SS Nander De Sedas.  It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Blue Jays could select one of these two, but recent history (a total of 3 prep picks in the first 10 rounds over the past two years) suggests a college player is more likely.