The D-backs have agreed to a deal with outfielder Dalton Pompey, per Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell (Twitter link). It’s surely a minor league pact for Pompey, who has acknowledged the new opportunity himself in some replies on Twitter.
Now 27 years old, Pompey was once considered to be among the game’s premier prospects. During the 2014-15 offseason, Baseball America rated him as high as 30th overall among minor leaguers, while both MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus ranked him inside the top 50. In the preceding season, Pompey had skyrocketed from Class-A Advanced to the Majors, hitting a combined .317/.392/.469 with nine homers, 22 doubles, nine triples and 43 stolen bases across his three minor league stops. Even his .231/.302/.436 output in 43 big league plate appearances were impressive, considering that he was a 21-year-old who’d never played above A-ball as of Opening Day that season.
The switch-hitting Pompey had another productive season in the upper minors in 2015 but struggled in 103 MLB plate appearances. Still, the sky appeared to be the limit for the 22-year-old, who was heralded as a plus defender with a high-end hit tool and blazing speed that made him a threat on the basepaths and anytime he put the ball in play.
Sadly, Pompey’s career has been waylaid by injuries — most notably a series of concussions. He barely played in either 2017 or 2019 due to concussions troubles, and a wrist injury limited him to 57 games in 2018. In total, over the past four seasons, Pompey has been able to suit up for just 188 games between the big leagues and the minors — an average of only 47 contests per year. By the time the 2019 season rolled around, he’d exhausted all of his minor league options; the Blue Jays were forced to designate him for assignment in July, at which point he went unclaimed on waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A. Pompey became a free agent at season’s end.
It’s been six years since Pompey debuted in the Majors, which makes it seem like he’s older than he is, but he won’t even turn 28 until next December. He has plenty of hurdles to clear before he can be considered as an option to resurface in the Majors, and the D-backs have a deep outfield mix that’s controllable for the foreseeable future. David Peralta signed a three-year extension earlier this winter, while the Snakes acquired the final two seasons of Starling Marte’s contract in a trade with the Pirates, and free agent Kole Calhoun signed a two-year deal with a third-year option. Standout second baseman/center fielder Ketel Marte is also signed long-term, while backup outfielder Tim Locastro can be controlled another five years.
Still, the D-backs will give Pompey a proving ground to attempt to demonstrate that his injury troubles are behind him. And with a strong, healthy showing in camp and/or in the upper minors, he could position himself as one of the first lines of defense in the event of an injury at the MLB level.