DUNEDIN, Fla. — It’s not often many 17-year-olds have the chance to be selected by a major league baseball team. But it is even rarer for someone to own a Cadillac as a teenager.
Dalton Pompey rewarded himself with a shiny new white Caddy after being taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 MLB draft.
The centre fielder, now 19 and currently playing for the rookie league’s Bluefield Blue Jays, pulled up to his former Oakville Royals’ baseball facility in his new wheels shortly following his selection in the 16th round.
“Everyone was thinking two things,” said Pompey, a Mississauga, Ont., who received $140,000 US signing bonus. “One, ‘nice car’ and two, they might have felt like I was rubbing it in their face, but it was something I wanted to spoil myself with.”
Before his big break Pompey played for the Royals, becoming the first player in the team’s history to be drafted into the major leagues.
“It’s a sense of pride and sense of accomplishment and more to come,” said Mike Siena, the director of Royals baseball operations and former coach of Pompey. “Dalton is the face of our organization right now.”
Despite being cut by four teams as a young baseball player, including Team Ontario, the Ontario Blue Jays, Mississauga North Tigers and the Mississauga Majors, Pompey did not let that stop him from pursuing his dream.
He was a member of Team Canada at the 2010 world junior championship in Thunder Bay, Ont., where he hit a two-run double and drove home in a victory over the Czech Republic.
“It was hard but I needed to focus on what I needed to do,” the switch hitter said. “I just kept it in the back of my head that I needed to keep pushing and eventually I will get to this point and now I’m here.”
Mike Swinton, who is the vice president of Oakville Royals, expressed that Pompey being cut was a benefit for the Royals.
“It was their [teams who cut Pompey] loss and my gain because I guess they didn’t recognize his talent,” he said.
As a late bloomer Pompey didn’t attract the attention to MLB scouts until his last year with the Royals.
“It wasn’t all roses and daises,” Pompey said. “There was a point in life when I wanted to give up because people were quitting on me.”
Added Siena: “He [Pompey] was never someone you could say ‘no’ to because he will try to prove you wrong.”
Siena also mentions that Pompey continues to be a part of the Royals’ organization by helping younger baseball players with their swings and baseball skills.
“When Dalton steps into a room, young Royals players are all ears and want to hear what comes out of his mouth because he is doing what they want to do down the road,” he said.
Pompey is focusing more on the mental aspect of his game for this upcoming season, wanting to stay positive when things aren’t going well.
He believes that being able to accept his failures will lead him to his ultimate goal – the major leagues.