Forgive me if I’m starting to get a bit redundant with my Anthony Alford obsession but for whatever reason I find this pick to be a microcosm of the Blue Jays drafting strategy the last couple of years.
Alex Anthopoulos made it clear that to be successful in the AL East, you needed, if not all-stars, high end talent in every position. One of the ways to accomplish this is via the draft, and, in order to obtain these players, you draft high upside athletes who you can groom into baseball players. Guys whose ceiling is off the charts. Not guys like Deck McGuire (and sorry to always pick on ol’ Deck) who project to be, at best, a back end starter who can chew up some innings.
Having done quite a bit of review lately of Jays drafts, it is hard to get excited about the strategy as a whole. Although the Jays have been generally lauded for using creative ways (and before the bonus pool of 2012, one those ways was cold hard cash) to get these high end talents to sign, the actual results, thus far, have failed to impress.
Getting Alford to sign was another feather in the hat for the Jays scouting department. Here’s a kid that was named both Mr
Baseball and Mr Football by the local paper in Mississippi. Consensus had him as the best athlete in the draft. However, after telling teams he wasn’t going to sign as he wanted to continue his football (and baseball) career at the University of Southern Mississippi, he fell to the third round where the Jays got him, getting a signature, admittedly at three hundred grand over slot, after doing their research and promising Alford he could play pro ball and college football during the same season.
You have to believe the Jays front office don’t toss 750k around without doing their homework, so extensive analysis of Alford’s football pedigree would have been done. And after the freshman quarterback struggled this past season, things were looking bright. No doubt Anthony would realize baseball was his future and give up football, tearing through three levels of the organization in 2013.
Not so fast.
First comes the on-campus arrest raising potential character issues. Now, and this has been percolating for some time, comes a report in the Clarion Ledger that Alford has enrolled at Ole Miss. Although, as the article points out, the University can’t confirm the registration, there has been enough talk about it happening over the last few weeks for me to believe it is a done deal.
Ok, Alford still wants to play football. Fair enough. And Ole Miss is a program of some note, so it’s not like he’s putting a full time baseball career on hold to play junior college.
Still, there are some worrying aspects to this story. First, and we knew this already, after transferring Alford will be forced to sit out 2013. So, if he is really serious about giving football another shot, then baseball is on hold for two years minimum.
Secondly, and this is only worrying if taken in context, the piece implies that nothing has been agreed in regards to playing football with Alford saying ‘The coaches just said when I get in school, then we’ll start talking football stuff’. I’m guessing that Alford is simply being coy here to avoid any tapping up charges. I seriously doubt he would transfer to Ole Miss without some sort of guarantee. That being said, it does leave me in some doubt about his commitment to baseball.
Lastly, and this quote leaves me with real worries that Alford will never play full time baseball, Anthony states that he is willing to move away from quarterback if necessary ‘no, I just want to be on the team and anything I can do to help the team.’
Ummm, I thought this whole college football career was because you thought you were a quarterback? Do you mean to tell me that your future is better off by becoming a hybrid football player without a set position than a potential five tool baseball player?!! This has been said by more than a few pundits, Alford is a very raw baseball player. Without full time reps, the sport, at the highest level, will pass him by.
I’m missing something here, and it’s not just getting to see Alford in a C’s jersey next season. If anyone can shed any light on this situation, by all means.