Blue Jays: Alford is tearing the Mexican winter league apart

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

Anthony Alford has been lighting up the Mexican Winter League thus far, and showing the baseball world why the Blue Jays are so excited about him.

When people talk about the Toronto Blue Jays’ minor league pipeline, the first two names that pop up are almost always Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette, and with good reason. The teenagers were incredible playing Low A ball with the Lansing Lugnuts, and both looked more than comfortable at the next level with the Dunedin Blue Jays as well. When you’re dominating two leagues at 18 and 19 years old, the narrative gets louder in a hurry.

Things don’t figure to change any time soon in the Blue Jays system either, as neither player is expected to make the big jump in 2018, but they’ll likely still be the two most talked about players in the system.

Which is just fine by Anthony Alford.

One of the more under the radar prospects in the game, Alford has been frequently ranked high on prospect lists, but he’s yet to put together an extended period of playing time to really show off what he can do. Having just dropped football last year to dedicate himself to baseball, and then dealing with a variety of injuries, Alford hopes to take a big leap forward with his development in 2018. And if his performance in the Mexican Winter League is any indication, it looks like he’s ready to make that jump.

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Through 11 games thus far, Alford has been lighting the world on fire, slashing .386/.391/.583 with 17 hits, five RBI, three stolen bases, and an OBP of .914. Granted it’s a small sample size, but Alford is displaying exactly why he’s been ranked well in the past, and why the Blue Jays are so high on his future.

Across four levels in 2017, Alford was only able to play 81 games, mostly due to a broken hamate bone in his wrist, which he sustained during his short stint in the big leagues. The best reflection of his abilities would have been the 68 games he played at Double A, where he slashed .310/.406/.429 with five home runs, and 14 doubles, and 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts. For as exciting as his ability with the bat is, it’s his speed and defence that really have the Blue Jays’ front office salivating.

As things stand as of this writing, the Blue Jays have an outfield stable that includes Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, Ezequiel Carrera, and possibly Teoscar Hernandez. There’s been plenty of speculation that the Blue Jays will seek a veteran corner outfielder, but if not Alford could legitimately be in the mix to break camp with the team.

It’s far more likely that he begins the year in Triple A, but don’t be the least bit surprised if he makes the jump to the big leagues in 2018. He’s got all the tools he needs and more, it’s just a matter of staying healthy and putting everything together. On that latter point, it looks like he’s found that groove in the Mexican Winter League, and hopefully he’ll  be able to carry it over into Spring Training as well.

Next: Luis Santos re-signs, Christian Lopes off to Texas