It seems that the strength of the Toronto Blue Jays system has shifted from high ceiling pitchers to ‘dynamic, exciting’ position players. It think that Blue Jays Minor League enthusiast Douglas Fox of Clutchlings, said it best:
"The Blue Jays have significantly upgraded their roster, and while they gave up a substantial package of prospects to do so, the club has a number of core players under contract beyond this year, and the farm system, while no longer deep in terms of major league ready prospects, still has some value. (full article)"
Douglas would go on to name Dunedin Blue Jays’ Anthony Alford as one of the prospects that Alex Anthopoulos did a good job of holding on to. He isn’t the only one that feels that way.
Baseball Ball America’s Ben Badler has a regular piece (Baseball America Prospect Chat) where he fields questions from fans. Questions center around International Free Agent Signings, their teams top prospects and up-and-coming prospects. In his most recent edition of Baseball America Prospect Chat, he was asked about his thoughts on the aforementioned Anthony Alford.
"Tom (TOR): Thoughts on Anthony Alford? Hearing that his athleticism is next to unmatched and that his lack of ABs over the past few years is what has kept him from creeping into the top 100. Could he be top 50 next year?Ben Badler: Premium athlete whose baseball skills are rapidly developing now that he’s, well, playing baseball! For someone who’s still just scratching the surface of his potential, the plate patience is promising. We haven’t seen power yet, but I think it’s in there, so it’s hard to even say what his ceiling is at this point, just that he’s a dynamic, exciting player who’s a strong Top 100 candidate right now. (full article)"
I could not agree with Ben more. Anthony spent this past offseason playing for the Canberra Calvary in Australia. It wouldn’t surprise me if Alford received an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League, but if he doesn’t then we can still expect him to pick up a bat for another Winter League team. Reps, reps, and more reps is what this talented outfielder needs.
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Over the past month Alford has slowed down some (.233/.323/.279), which can be expected, as he’s never played 93 games in a year before. The most he’s played before 2015 was the 36 games he appeared in with the Calvary this past offseason. He hit .314 in July, .276 in July, and .312 in May, so hitting .214 in August in 11 games isn’t the worst thing that could happen.
What’s more important than his August batting average is that during his struggles he’s continued to have a good approach at the plate, walking 5 times and struck out 10, proving that he is no Anthony Gose. He will need to improve on his ISO numbers in Dunedin (.112) and Lansing (.101) if he wishes to earn the label of a 5-tool prospect.
Going into play on August 14th, the speedy outfielder from South Mississippi has put up some pretty good numbers across two minor league levels:
For more on Anthony Alford read a piece that Shaun Doyle, our faithful leader at Jays Journal did (Stock Watch). Shaun pointed out that Jays Journal originally had him ranked as Toronto’s 15th prospect before his breakout season. You can also read what MLB.com 2015 Prospect Watch (Blue Jays Top 30) has to say about Alford, as they now have him listed as Toronto’s 3rd ranked prospect, behind only OF Dalton Pompey and SP Jonathan Harris.
GM’s have to make tough decisions when dealing prospects, but good GM’s are able to hold onto just enough good ones so as not to bleed the system dry of high ceiling talent. Alex did good holding on to this one.