Blue Jays: Anthony Alford is surging, but is there any room?

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: Anthony Alford #30 of the Toronto Blue Jays flies out in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 02: Anthony Alford #30 of the Toronto Blue Jays flies out in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on April 2, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Alford has been playing very well in Triple-A, but with a full Blue Jays’ outfield, there may be no room for him to get an opportunity.

The Blue Jays created room all over their big league roster, which has allowed for their talented young players to get an opportunity to strut their stuff. That’s worked very well when you look at the performance of guys like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and many others.

It’s a new generation of Blue Jays and it happened pretty swiftly. It’s not terribly surprising given how much we’ve heard about the talent on the way for the past few years, but I’m not sure if anyone predicted these young hitters would be performing this well, this quickly. It seems like everyone they’re calling up is finding a way to contribute, and the future is coming together on their big league roster in a hurry.

Many of the pieces are falling into place the way we expected, but that hasn’t been the case across the board. One of those cases would be the development of Anthony Alford, who has long been considered a top 10 prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, and has ranked in baseball’s top 100 prospects in the past as well.

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If you asked me a few years ago where I thought he’d be playing in August of 2019, and I would have told you he’d be the Blue Jays’ centre fielder, and maybe even their leadoff hitter. Things have changed a little bit with his profile over the last couple of years, but I still expected that he would find his way to Toronto and fit into the lineup one way or another. I especially felt that way earlier this season when we were watching guys like Socrates Brito and Alen Hanson getting starts in the outfield.

Once again Alford dealt with injury issues earlier this year, but lately he’s been hitting very well in Triple-A, and under normal circumstances he would be a pretty obvious candidate for a promotion. However, the Blue Jays’ outfield has become pretty full these days, with a group that includes Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, and Derek Fisher. Throw Billy McKinney in there, who was called up to replace the banged up Gurriel Jr., and there are a lot of names ahead of Alford’s on the depth chart, and most of them are playing pretty well right now.

The Blue Jays’ made the decision to create room by letting Freddy Galvis go to Cincinnati on the waiver wire, but they don’t really have that same situation in the outfield. They have committed to Grichuk with a five-year extension, and he needs to play every day. Gurriel Jr. has emerged as a potential star, but he’ll also need to start on a regular basis once he’s healthy. When it comes to centre field, Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise and deserves a longer look, and they paid a pretty hefty price to bring in Fisher, so you know they’re going to give him regular at-bats.

Alford is now slashing .270/.351/.445 in 256 MiLB at-bats this year, which are good enough numbers to justify a big league promotion. However, when you consider how hot he’s been since the start of June, you have to wonder if he’s feeling like his efforts are going unnoticed. He slashed .361/.451/.525 in 17 games in June, and he’s .375/.412/.625 so far in August. That’ll play.

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It’s possible that the 25-year-old could get a look when rosters expand in September, but it might take an injury to someone above him on the depth chart to get him much playing time. That said, it’s entirely possible I’m wrong and that he could be on his way to Toronto later this week. His performance has certainly justified as much, and hopefully he’ll get an opportunity one way or another eventually. Right now though, it might be a little too hard to find him regular at-bats.

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