Dalton Pompey had a storybook rise through the Toronto organization last year, dominating three levels of the Minors to earn a 17-game cameo with the Blue Jays at the age of 21.
Another chapter in that fairy tale seemed poised to be written this year as the native of nearby Mississauga, Ontario, earned a spot on Toronto's Opening Day roster.
Then the story became grim. Pompey struggled at the plate, in the field and with injuries early this season. But his recent success with Buffalo shows that the young outfielder may have more chapters to be written about his career.
"He had a big rise last year, from Class A ball to the big leagues," Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. "And he did enough to make the big league club this year, then he had a setback.
"He's not the first guy that has happened to and he won't be the last. So he has to get over that, go out and play hard."
Pompey was Toronto's Opening Day center fielder but hit .193 in 23 games and struggled defensively, prompting the Jays to option him to Buffalo in early May.
"It was a frustrating start for me because I wasn't playing as well as I could," Pompey said. "I was trying to cope with that mentally more than physically. And I think I had some issues with my swing that caused me to struggle offensively. And I think I carried that into the field a couple of times."
Things did not get better in Buffalo. He missed roughly a week with a knee injury and was batting .209 in 23 games before he was sent to Double-A New Hampshire in early June.
"I would start thinking about things I couldn't control and maybe I would mess up -- and then it would snowball," Pompey admitted. "I have to remind myself not to worry about that stuff and focus on just doing stuff to make me a better player."
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound outfielder caught fire with the Fisher Cats, collecting a hit in his first 13 Eastern League games and batting .351 with six homers, 22 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 31 contests.
Pompey returned to the Bisons after the All-Star break and was a different player. He bashed hits in his first 11 games, including a 5-for-6 night on July 25 at Pawtucket, and has batted .341 with 10 RBIs and eight steals in 33 contests.
"Whether it's Dalton Pompey or any player, the thing players at this level have to work on is being consistent," Allenson said. "Players are going to have ups and downs on the field, so what needs to stay consistent is that mental attitude or not riding the roller coaster.
"Your confidence will go up if you're going good, but you can't let it go down if you're struggling. Players have to realize they get 500 at-bats in a season."
Pompey, who's raised his season's numbers with the Bisons to .286 with 16 RBIs and 14 steals, is working to be more consistent -- and working to better handle all the pressure that comes with the game.
"It's humbling to get to play for the organization I grew up rooting for," he said. "But at the same time, I feel I have an obligation to play well because I know so many kids from that area look up to me and there's always pressure just to play the game. So I manage it as well as I can."
Welcome to the club: LHP Blake Snell did not join Durham's rotation until July 24, but he's quickly become one of the Bulls' most dependable starters. He's 4-2 with a 1.53 ERA, 42 strikeouts and eight walks over 29 1/3 innings in six starts. Even in his two losses Snell pitched well: he allowed five hits and one run over four innings on July 24 at Norfolk and gave up four hits and one earned run over five frames on Aug. 4 against Indianapolis.
Feast or famine: Louisville OF Adam Duvall has struggled since joining the Bats on Aug. 2, hitting .153 in 19 games. But Duvall, a University of Louisville product who came to the Cincinnati organization in a trade with the Giants, has shown power: his 11 hits include four homers and three doubles.
He said it: "It was a very good day for me. I was seeing the ball very good. I think that's good for everybody here. I try to do my job and I try to get the team wins. That's good that I tied [the record]. It means that I've got to keep working hard." -- Columbus 1B Jesus Aguilar to the Columbus Dispatch on Aug. 18 after tying the Clippers record with three doubles in a 10-6 win over Charlotte. This season, he's hitting .254 with 15 homers and ranks second in the IL with 77 RBIs.
He said it, part II: "The machine is only off when you disconnect it. When [my personal trainer, Josue Rivera] called me 'La Maquina' [Spanish for 'The Machine'], I said, 'Alright, I can be that.' " -- Rochester RHP Jose Berrios to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. He's been a machine since joining the Red Wings rotation on July 3, going 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 12 walks over 57 2/3 innings.
John Wagner is a contributor to MiLB.com.