The name Anthony Alford may ring some bells for Blue Jays fans. The speedy outfielder was the third-round draft pick of the club all the way back in 2012.
Alford always had some shine as a prospect, making it as high as the third-best Blue Jays prospect in 2017 (No. 70 overall) and 2018 (No. 60 overall). His bat-to-ball skills seemed to improve every single year during his development and paired nicely with his blazing fast speed on the basepaths.
Five years after being drafted and spending time in every level of the minor leagues for Toronto, Alford made his big league debut in 2017, going one-for-eight in four games.
Things never seemed to take off for Alford at the major league level thanks to a lethal combination of injuries and the failure to capitalize on the opportunities that were handed to him.
In the end, Alford's Blue Jays career at the big league level consisted of 46 games played and a .155 batting average with 30 strikeouts and just three walks. He went 6-0 in stolen base attempts and continued to look sharp in the outfield but the bat just wasn't there.
Since his departure from the Blue Jays organization (the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed him off of waivers in August of 2020), he spent parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh, highlighted by a 49-game showing in 2021 in which he hit five home runs and posted an OPS+ of 93.
After spending a very brief time in the Cleveland Guardians organization last year, Alford was released to pursue a unique opportunity - playing overseas in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).
The KT Wiz of the KBO signed Alford to a one-year, $577,000 contract and he ran with the opportunity.
In a conversation with Jays Journal, Alford said, "once I got adjusted to the culture and the league, I loved it. My wife and kids love it over there as well. I never realized how passionate the fans were in Asia."
In 80 games for the Wiz, he tapped into some newfound power, hitting 19 doubles and 14 home runs alongside 50 RBI and a .286 average. On defense, he spent time at all three outfield spots and made just three errors in left field in 420 innings on the year.
Back on the ninth of December, the Wiz opted to re-sign Alford to a one-year, $1.1M contract, a nice raise that he very much earned from his strong play last season.
Alford went on to say that he is "definitely looking forward to heading back there next year" and we are right there with him.
It's always nice to see an old friend get the opportunities to flourish in professional baseball, even if it isn't for the Blue Jays anymore. Congrats to Anthony on finding success overseas, we'll be rooting for you.