Blue Jays: Could Anthony Alford be the X-Factor in 2018?

SARASOTA, FL- MARCH 09: Anthony Alford
SARASOTA, FL- MARCH 09: Anthony Alford /

The Toronto Blue Jays are searching for ways to not only get younger but also more athletic for the 2018 season however the brain trust may have to look no further than outfielder Anthony Alford to accomplish those goals.

Anthony Alford has game-changing speed and athleticism, traits the Blue Jays desperately need to inject into their slow-footed lineup. The outfielder would undoubtedly be a shoe-in for an outfield position this coming spring had his 2017 campaign not been interrupted by a broken hamate bone in his left wrist that required surgery. An injury that Alford suffered during his eight-game cup of coffee with the big club last summer.

The former college football player has made great strides since committing to baseball full time in 2015. Alford may not have the raw power to all fields that Teoscar Hernandez possesses but he is more prolific on the bases with better plate discipline and is better defensively.

Last season despite the injury Alford still batted .299/.390/.406 with 5 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 22 attempts through 77 games at three different levels, although the majority of this season (68 games) was spent at Double-A New Hampshire.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Alford also cut down his strikeout rate from the previous season fanning 55 times in 324 plate appearances while also working 36 walks on the season. Hernandez, on the other hand, struck out 102 times in 456 plate appearances albeit at the Triple-A level in 2017. The former Houston Astros farmhand also whiffed 36 times with the Jays in Septemeber.

The departure of Jose Bautista in right field and the uncertainty surrounding left field with Steve Pearce and Ezequiel Carrera could leave the door wide open for one of the kids to snatch up a starting job with a good showing in spring training.

If Alford can make consistent contact at the major league level, he would be the perfect prototypical leadoff hitter and address an area the Jays desperately need to occupy with speed. In his eight-game audition, Alford went 1-8 with a double and 3 whiffs before the injury.

Unfortunately for Alford the Jays opted to get a look at the newly acquired Hernandez in September while still being loyal to Bautista and his playing time so there was no room for Alford as a fall call-up.

Next: Blue Jays well represented in World Series showdown

Alford has the pedigree and tools necessary to be the X-Factor for the Blue Jays in 2018 if provided with the opportunity. Regardless of how it plays out the future is very bright for Mr. Alford and Blue Jays fans should be anxious for his arrival north of the border.