May 19, 2017
The Situation: With backup outfielder Darrell Ceciliani on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and starting center fielder Kevin Pillar suspended by the team, the Blue Jays have need of an outfielder for a few days. They’ll be using this as an opportunity to get their best outfield prospect’s feet wet in the majors.
The Background: Anthony Alford was taken by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Petal High School in Mississippi. He was expected to go higher, but signability concerns attached to his NCAA football commitment dropped him to Day 2. The Jays gave him $750,000 as part of a two-sport deal that also allowed him to play football at Southern Mississippi. He began focusing on baseball full time in 2015 and immediately broke out at the plate, smashing both A-ball levels to the tune of .298/.398/.421 and breaking onto top 100 lists. His 2016 return to Dunedin was marred by a concussion and leg injuries, but a healthy Alford has resumed mashing the baseball this season, posting an .866 OPS in 33 games in the Eastern League.
Scouting Report: The first thing you notice with Alford is the body. He looks more like a strong safety than a center fielder. Of course he has been both, but the SEC football athleticism has translated well to the diamond. He’s a plus runner with a plus arm, and can go get it in center. That’s a pretty good start if you are building an above-average major-league regular from scratch, but Alford has broken out at the plate this spring as well. A lot of this may be due to being healthy after an injury-plagued 2016, but the fact that he has handled to the jump to Double-A with aplomb is still noteworthy.
There’s some pre-swing waggle and a leg kick here, but Alford is strong enough and athletic enough to keep everything under control. He hits line drives with authority to all fields, and has an advanced approach at the plat>