Blue Jays: Could Alford push for an Opening Day job?
The Blue Jays look to have their starting outfield in place already, but not if one of their top prospects, Anthony Alford, has anything to say about it.
The Blue Jays entered the offseason wondering who would be in their outfield. By the time spring training opened up, they arguably had too many bodies. The evidence of that statement is in the fact that Ezequiel Carrera had to be designated for assignment in order to make room for Seung-hwan Oh, despite being a well-liked and valued player in the organization.
As things currently stand, new acquisitions Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson are expected to start most of the time, with Steve Pearce forming a platoon with Granderson in left field. Kevin Pillar is expected to return in centre field for his fourth year as a starter, forming a veteran group that should be much improved, especially on defence.
However, there are also some talented youngsters lingering and already doing a lot to impress early in the Grapefruit League schedule. After an impressive September, Teoscar Hernandez would be the most likely candidate based on big league experience, however there’s another name impressing enough that he could factor into the equation earlier than expected, Anthony Alford.
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The Blue Jays’ 3rd ranked prospect is further along in his development than the big names of Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette, and at 23 he looks poised to make the jump to the big leagues at some point this year. In fact, based on the way he’s performed thus far in February, there are some who would argue he should start the season at the highest level.
Realistically, the former two sport star could probably use a little more development, as he’s only played 301 minor league games thus far. Between missing time due to splitting time as a football player and dealing with some injuries, he hasn’t had the chance to develop as much as you’d like to see from a 23 year old. That doesn’t stop him from displaying the multi-tool talent he possesses though.
Heading into Wednesday’s schedule, the Mississippi native was slashing .444 through four games. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but knowing the tools he possesses with his glove and abilities on the base path, he’s an exciting player to dream on. When you consider that he could be the lead off hitter the Blue Jays have been seeking for several years now (with all due respect to Devon Travis), it because that much more tempting to bring him north at the end of March.
Manager John Gibbons is becoming a bigger fan by the day as well, simply stating “he’s got it all”, after watching him go 2-2 against the Yankees on Tuesday. As we know, winning over Gibby is a valuable
Considering Pillar is slated to be the starting centre fielder and is expected to hit at the bottom of the order, it’s a position that’s well suited for a rookie to step in. I don’t expect that’ll be the case to begin the season, but look for Alford to push Pillar and the other outfielders to either perform, or risk losing their job.
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