Gibbons: Jays like what Pompey offers

Jays rookie Dalton Pompey ranks last night’s catch in his top 5 overall but not his best, as he really prides himself on his defense, also touches on how special it was to collect his first major league hit playing against the legendary Derek Jeter.

With three hits in his first 19 big league at bats, Dalton Pompey continues seeking the on-field success that followed him from Dunedin to New Hampshire to Buffalo during his breakout 2014 season. Still, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is taking a long look at the 21-year-old, who started for the fourth consecutive game Monday.

“I like everything I’ve seen,” Gibbons said before Pompey collected two hits against the Seattle Mariners. “I think this is great for him because now regardless of what happens next year, he’s faced some pretty good pitchers along the way, too, so now he’s got a little better idea of what the elite at this level looks like.”

Gibbons likes Pompey’s swing from both sides of the plate, his speed and his outfield instincts. Expect to continue seeing the Mississauga, Ont., native over the course of the Blue Jays‘ remaining six games. But how long does it take for the Blue Jays to make an assessment on a player’s readiness?

“That’s hard to say. You want to see them have success,” Gibbons said. “He hasn’t played a lot, since he was sitting for most of the month, but you can usually tell when they’re ready. If you say he starts at triple-A next year, if that’s the case, and he gets off to a good start, we’ll have a better idea about him because of what he did in September this year.”

Given Pompey’s quick climb through the minor leagues, there’s ample reason for the Blue Jays to have him open the 2015 campaign at triple-A Buffalo. First, though, he’ll head to the Arizona Fall League for some additional seasoning. Still, there’s no hard and fast rule that determines when a player’s had enough minor league seasoning.

“You never really know for sure,” Gibbons said. “Usually when they’re dominating and at least standing out at wherever they’re at, and he’s done that every stop along the way this year.”

In the meantime, Pompey and the Blue Jays’ other call-ups are getting comfortable at the MLB level.

“It can be intimidating and it can be a pressure situation when you’re trying to make a name for yourself and compete at the same time at this level,” right fielder Jose Bautista said. “I’m glad that they’re getting a chance and I’m glad that they’re succeeding.”

Pompey has started to become more comfortable at the big league level, and he expects that trend to continue when he arrives at spring training 2015. Until then, he wants to gain the Blue Jays’ trust.

“Just persistence. Hard work,” he said. “Taking care of the little things. Building a strong routine, and going out and doing my best.”

HEAD PROTECTION: Former All-Star MLB outfielder Cliff Floyd is trying to prevent head injuries sustained by the likes of J.A. Happ and Alex Cobb in recent seasons by working on a light protective cap targeted at big league players and amateurs alike. Floyd was at Rogers Centre Monday, hoping to show the gear off to Happ and Mariners right-hander Chris Young, among others.

“Even if it prevents one injury, that’s big,” Floyd told Sportsnet.

The headgear isn’t as bulky as the protective cap worn by Alex Torres, the San Diego Padres’ left-handed reliever. While big league pitchers are now on Floyd’s radar, the headgear could also be a fit in youth baseball, where pitchers are even closer to home plate and batters use aluminum bats.


THURSDAY RELIEF: It continues to look as though the Blue Jays will go with a bullpen by committee approach for Thursday’s series finale against the Mariners. Todd Redmond could get the nod, and Daniel Norris hasn’t been ruled out entirely, but Aaron Sanchez won’t be in the mix to start.

Sean Nolin could also pitch Thursday, but he made his 2014 debut with an inning against the Mariners Monday, so the Blue Jays have at least given him another chance against MLB pitching after allowing six earned runs in his MLB debut May 24, 2013.

JAYS, LANSING EXTEND DEAL: The Blue Jays and the Lansing Lugnuts announced a two-year player development contract extension Tuesday that will keep Toronto’s Midwest League affiliate in place through 2016.

“We love our affiliation with the Lugnuts,” Blue Jays director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson said. “From the location to the front office staff to the stadium atmosphere, the Lansing Lugnuts are an ideal partner.”

Pompey, Daniel Norris and Kendall Graveman all played for Lansing earlier in 2014.

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