When it comes to the MLB draft, college players are arguably a safer investment than high school draftees. More experienced with a track record against stiffer competition, college players are usually closer to MLB ready than those selected right out of high school. One particular college player who looks to be a high selection this year is OF Tristan Pompey. Not only does Pompey look like the real deal, but he has played three seasons in the SEC, which is arguably the best conference in college baseball.
Tristan Pompey 2018 MLB Draft Profile
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 lbs., Pompey has the sort of athletic frame that scouts love. He is definitely an offense first type of player, but he has the athletic ability to be an average defender in the outfield.
The biggest strength of Pompey is his bat. His freshman year in 2016 was nothing impressive, but he has carried an OPS above 1.000 each of the last two seasons. As a sophomore, Pompey racked up 96 hits, 70 runs scored, and 10 home runs. He is a bit below those numbers this year as a junior, but that is mainly due to the fact that an injury limited his playing time. His slash line this year of .335/.448/.557 compares favorably to his work last season.
Switch-hitting outfielders with the kind of offensive make up that Pompey has do not come along too often. He has shown some ability on the basepaths with 19 steals combined over the past two seasons. Lean, athletic, and with enough power to do damage, Pompey looks to be a future MLB outfielder.
One concern some scouts have about Pompey is strikeouts. He has carried a 25% strikeout rate over 601 career plate appearances at Kentucky. In this day and age, that number should not be too worrisome, especially considering he has played in the SEC for three seasons. It should also be noted that Pompey has 99 walks to 151 strikeouts in his career. That is not necessarily a great number, but it should ease some concerns.
The other cause for concern at this point is Pompey’s defense. He is athletic enough to cover plenty of ground in the outfield, but he does not have a great arm. His arm could limit his playing possibilities to LF, which is not a bad thing by itself, but it will put a greater strain on the progression of his bat. Few teams will want an offensively challenged outfielder, especially if that fielder does not have elite defense like Jason Heyward or Kevin Pillar.
A good comparison for Pompey is likely Dexter Fowler. Fowler has been a solid leadoff hitter with some pop (five seasons of 12+ home runs) but with average to below average defense in the field. Pompey may not be as quick as Fowler, but speed is not a liability with him. Additionally, Pompey will need to show he can get on base against stiffer competition after struggling in the Cape Cod League.
The bottom line is Pompey could be a first-round selection and has all the tools and production one would want out of a collegiate player. There are some question marks in his overall makeup, but the talent is there and should play at the next level.
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