Many hoped that Anthony Alford would get a serious audition for next year’s team in September, but it appears the writing is on the wall for his future in Toronto.
When your team isn’t a World Series contender, it’s a common coping mechanism to focus on the future, and in particular with the talent in the minor leagues. We’ve been doing that for the last few years with the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and many more, and this season we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy their successful MLB debuts. It’s been great to see long-discussed promise starting to be fulfilled.
It doesn’t go that way for every minor leaguer, and one significantly hyped prospect in the Blue Jays’ system has had another disappointing year, dropping his stock on the minor league rankings, and from the way things appear, perhaps on the organizational depth chart as well. That would be Anthony Alford, who has been a top five prospect in Toronto for what seems like forever, and it appears that his time could be running out.
He’s been hampered by injuries for a good chunk of his baseball career, and that was the case again this season. When he was healthy, he played 76 games in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons, slashing .259/.343/.411 across 282 at-bats, picking up 16 doubles, seven home runs, and 22 stolen bases.
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The promise is still there, but unfortunately for Alford and maybe the Blue Jays, he will be out of minor league options next season. With that in mind, you would think there would be some urgency to see what they have in him and whether or not he could factor into the 25 man roster competition next spring. However, he already feels like a bit of a forgotten man in the crowded outfield mix.
When he came in for Derek Fisher in Sunday’s game, it was the 11th time he’s been used since being recalled as part of September’s expanded roster. However, Alford has received just one start during that time, mostly coming in as a late-inning defensive replacement, and usually only collecting one or two at-bats before the game is done.
Tao of Stieb, a notable writer and blogger from Sportsnet, made an interesting observation about Sunday’s game. He pointed out that even without Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in Sunday’s lineup, he still couldn’t draw a start in Charlie Montoyo‘s lineup. Granted, not all of them are outfielders, but there are ways to get him out there if it’s a priority for the club.
Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, it looks like the Blue Jays view him quite a way down their outfield depth chart, and that’s somewhat understandable given the glut of options they currently employ. Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Derek Fisher, Teoscar Hernandez, and Billy McKinney have all been playing semi-regularly, and one would assume they’ve all got a leg up on Alford for the Blue Jays’ roster in 2020. McKinney has minor league options remaining, but otherwise the Blue Jays are going to have some tough decisions to make, and that’s before they look at potentially adding to the roster this winter.
I can’t say for sure, but I feel like the Blue Jays have already signalled their intention for Alford. Perhaps he needs a change of scenery to capture his full potential and thrive in the big leagues, but I had always hoped that would happen in Toronto. It could still happen that way, sure, but the way things have gone this month that’s looking very unlikely.