With the minor league seasons winding down, the major leagues are beginning to ramp up the hype for the Arizona Fall League. The AFL has become an annual showcase of some of the best prospects that baseball has to offer and, as usual, the Toronto Blue Jays will be participating in the desert extravaganza.
While most teams send six or seven players, the Blue Jays have only announced three players (all position players) to the preliminary roster of the Mesa Solar Sox, the club for whom the Blue Jays will be providing players this year (last year it was the Salt River Rafters). The Blue Jays sent several players last year who have made big impacts with the big league team as well as in the minors including Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Derrick Chung, Andy Burns, Kenny Wilson, John Stilson and Drew Hutchison.
For the 2014 version of the AFL, the Blue Jays have announced that they’re sending outfielders Dalton Pompey and Dwight Smith, Jr. as well as second baseman Jon Berti.
Pompey, the Mississauga native, has been tearing up the minors this year as a 21 year old and made headlines when he was promoted to Buffalo to play at the Triple-A level. Combined, in 106 games this season, Pompey has posted a .314/.392/.467 triple slash line with 18 doubles, nine triples and nine home runs to go along with 41 stolen bases in 48 attempts.
Berti, 24, is a second baseman who has flown under the radar over his minor league career but he’s put up very good numbers since being an 18th round pick in the 2011 draft out of Bowling Green State University. The Troy, Michigan native has spent the year in Double-A New Hampshire and has been one of the key contributors to that club all seasin, hitting .272/.325/.377 with 19 doubles, seven triples and seven home runs, stealing 38 bases in 53 opportunities.
Smith, also a 21-year-old outfielder, started the season at the same level as Pompey (High-A Dunedin) but hasn’t been moved as aggressively. In 118 games (522 plate appearances so far), Smith has put up eerily similar numbers to his 2013 season in Lansing with a .284/.361/.457 slash line. The big difference between his seasons is his slugging which has improved dramatically. Smith has hit 28 doubles, eight triples and 12 home runs while stealing 15 bases. The key increase comes in a tougher hitter’s league (Florida State League) and Smith has shown more power towards the end of the season, hitting seven of his 12 home runs in July and August.
Who are these players? Find out in The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, now available as an ebook at Smashwords.com for $7.99 US. It’s coming soon to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers. You can purchase and preview the book at our Smashwords.com page! If you like us here,“like” us on Facebook!
The All-Star Break Supplement to the Minor League Handbook is also available at Smashwords.com for only $2 US! Get an update on how your favourite players have been doing this season as well as a report on the 2014 draft!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2014) and may not be used without permission.