Our #3 prospect this year is Anthony Alford, who was also ranked at #87 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list.
The Toronto Blue Jays took a chance on signing Anthony Alford in 2012, as he was committed to playing football at Southern Mississippi. The Jays nabbed him in the 3rd round, and the gamble paid off, as Alford eventually gave up football, and is now focused solely on developing as a baseball player.
Name: Anthony Alford
Position: OF Age: 22
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 215 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 3rd round draft pick (#112 overall) in 2012
Now that Alford is dedicated to baseball, he was able to make some pretty big strides during the 2016 season. Previously he was only able to play with the Blue Jays organization in the summer leagues, keeping him in the range of 25 games a year. That’s a really tough way to develop into a big leaguer, so the Jays are pleased he’s committed to baseball going forward, and it should go a long way to expediting his development.
In his first full season in 2015, Alford hit .298/.398/.421 with 27 steals and a walk rate above 13 percent over 107 games across both Class A levels. His raw athleticism was rarely questioned, and he started to show an ability to adjust to a higher level. Focusing on one skill set will certainly help with that, as VERY few can play two sports on a pro level, a la Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders.
He took a bit of a step back last season, largely due to nagging health issues. He suffered a knee injury early in the season, and also battled a concussion later on. All told, he hit .236/.344/.378 over 92 games and 339 at bats with the Dunedin Blue Jays of advanced Class-A ball.
What stands out about Alford is the physical tool chest he’s working with, headlined by his plus-plus speed. That particular tool is extremely useful on defence in centre field, as well as being a top-of-the-order type. He stole 18 bases in 2016, despite dealing with a knee injury that affected his explosiveness.
While his potential may not have shown up in his numbers last season, many scouts were quick to blame his injuries for the regression in his numbers, and it doesn’t seem as though it’s hurt his prospect status all that much. He does strike out a lot (117 times in 339 at bats), but his ability to make quick adjustments should help him in that department.
Alford has shown an ability to work a deep count, and has made fairly consistent, hard contact, especially since dedicating himself to baseball, which could help him continue to develop more power in his swing.
Still just 22 years old, he has time to continue to develop his plus-plus tools, and also has shown there could be a bit of ceiling left in his power potential as well. While he may not quite qualify as a “5-tool” player, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Alford’s all-around game.
With question marks in the Blue Jays outfield in 2018 and beyond, Alford could be just the answer they’re looking for.
Top-30 Blue Jays prospect rankings:
#30: RHP Jordan Romano #29: RHP Yennsy Diaz #28: CF Reggie Pruitt
#27: 1B Ryan McBroom #26: CF Roemon Fields #25: 2B Cavan Biggio
#24: RHP Jose Espada #23: RHP Patrick Murphy #22: C Danny Jansen
#21: OF Dwight Smith Jr. #20: RHP Zach Jackson #19: RHP Francisco Rios
#18: OF Harold Ramirez #17: C Max Pentecost #16: Ryan Borucki
#15: OF Joshua Palacios #14: OF J.B. Woodman #13: C Reese McGuire
#12: RHP Conner Greene #11: IF/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #10: SS Bo Bichette
#9: LHP Angel Perdomo #8: RHP Justin Maese #7: T.J. Zeuch
#6: Jon Harris