Marlins select Canadian outfielder Pompey in third round of MLB draft

Canadian Tristan Pompey was selected by the Miami Marlins in the third round of the MLB draft Tuesday while fellow countryman RJ Freure went to Houston in the sixth round.

The two players bring the total of drafted Canadians to three so far this year.

Noah Naylor, an 18-year-old catcher/third baseman from Mississauga, Ont., was the first Canadian selected, going in the first round (29th overall) to Cleveland on Monday night.

Pompey, a six-foot-four switch hitter from Mississauga, Ont., was picked 89th overall after leading the University of Kentucky Wildcats with a .448 on-base percentage and batting .335 over 50 games this season.

He had a team-leading .464 OBP in Ketucky’s successful 2017 campaign with a .361 average. The Wildcats made it to the super-regional final for the first time in school history that year.

Pompey was drafted out of high school by Minnesota in the 31st round of the 2015 draft, but he decided to play for Kentucky instead.

He was back home for the draft after narrowly missing the NCAA post-season with Kentucky.

“It’s more of a different feel this year going into the college draft,” Pompey told The Canadian Press last week. “For college kids, their season is just ending or still going on so they don’t have time to think about it as much.”

Pompey grew as a player over his three years at Kentucky, crediting his coaches and hard work he put in himself to turn him into a ”household name in the SEC (Southeastern Conference).”

He played in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer, batting .230 with two homers, 15 runs-batted in, seven walks, five stolen bases and 24 strikeouts.

“I just fell out of my rhythm hitting-wise and I couldn’t really see what was wrong and fix my swing until I got back to school,” Pompey said of his dip in production with the Cape Cod League’s Wareham Gatemen. “Basically once I lost my rhythm and timing on pitches I felt like I just had to wait it out.”

Pompey’s older brother Dalton is an outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Freure, a 20-year-old relief pitcher from Burlington, Ont., was taken by the Astros 192nd overall out of the University of Pittsburgh.

Freure was a workhorse out of the Panthers’ bullpen this season, pitching 58 2/3 innings over 27 appearances while striking out 95 and holding batters to a .227 batting average.

“It’s an honour to be given this opportunity to play professionally and I would like to thank my coaches for helping me and showing me how to become a better player and person on and off the field,” Freure said in a Pitt Athletics press release.

“I’d also like to thank my family and friends for always being there during both the good and bad times. Mostly, I want to thank my parents for everything they have done for me and allowing me to pursue my dream. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity.”

Freure, who went undrafted out of high school, and Pompey were teammates on the Canadian junior team in 2015.

The Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Adam Kloffenstein with their third-round pick, 88th overall, on Tuesday.

The 17-year-old six-foot-five pitcher, projected by some as a first-round pick, has committed to play college baseball with TCU next season and may prove tough to sign.

The Blue Jays capped Tuesday’s selections by picking University of Arizona centre-fielder Cal Stevenson in the 10th round.

Toronto also selected right-hander pitcher Sean Wymer (fourth round), catcher Christopher Bec (fifth round), shortstop addison Barger (sixth round), third baseman Nick Podkul (seventh round), right-hander Joey Murray (eighth round) and first baseman Jake Brodt (ninth round) on Tuesday.

The draft continues Wednesday with Rounds 11 through 40.

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