Toronto Blue Jays top prospect, Anthony Alford is having himself quite a showing in the Arizona Fall League
You’ve been hearing his name for a while now. And, after the wheeling and dealing from the summer of 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays have seen Anthony Alford climb to the top of their prospect list. Currently holding the 3rd spot according to MLB Pipeline, Alford is looking to continue his 2016 performance in the Arizona Fall League and it is going quite well for him.
At the age of 21, Alford spent his 2016 season in Dunedin. It was his 2nd stop, and first full year at that level. Last season, he split time between Lansing and Dunedin and the organization started him where he left off. It was a bit of a bumpy road for him in 2016. The final number likely won’t be where you’d like to see them after hitting just .236
|Minors (5 seasons)||Minors||224||998||157||225||45||10||16||87||56||13||133||257||.266||.370||.400|
2016 also saw Alford miss time due to concussion. In June, he collided with another player on a ball hit to the outfield. This came after he was injured to start the year. In total, he saw action in 92 games and was off to a rough start. But, he managed to turn around his campaign with a strong second half. He left Florida a work in progress, but knows what he needs to work on his bat path and mental approach. Earlier this year, Devon Travis worked with him and the two have become fairly close. Perhaps, the benefit of being saddled with that ‘top prospect’ label is that others are willing to work with you quite a bit. Regardless of how much help he is getting, Alford has the confidence in himself to improve and succeed.
And he’s doing just that this fall. While many of us are out cleaning leaves off our lawn, Alford is doing some raking of his own. In 7 games with the Mesa Solar Sox Alford is hitting .250, but has 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 SB and a HR. His patience at the plate his still a work in progress. He has 4 walks to his credit, but has fanned 10 times. The fear about striking out these days isn’t quite what it used to be, which is a topic for another day, but for prospects, you like to see the total lower. That said, his OBP is up to .344, which is the same as his regular season total.
He is showing some power as well with a home run that showed off the potential he possesses.
The deep fly ball was just his second hit of the fall. As evidenced by his doubles and HR totals, he does have some extra base pop. The trick will be to develop it consistently.
If you are in to making a lot out of small samples, Alford is hitting .600 against lefty pitching. In 5 games, he has 3 hits, including his HR. Against righties, though, it is a completely different story. He is hitting just .174 and all of his strikeouts have come via the right side. But, again, it would not make sense to turn this split data into a narrative. For his career, the splits are more equal than this fall sample.
Alford remains a work in progress, to be sure. But, that is to be expected. If he weren’t. he would be taking his spot in the outfield at Rogers Centre. But, he’s a bit away from that just yet. He could be another year or two from getting a sniff of big league action. But, that is not the point at the moment. Instead, the Fall Ball experience is just another step in his development. It is a place where big league cluibs send their prospects that they feel are ready for a bigger step. Maybe the Blue Jays think that Alford will be heading higher in the organization in 2017 to provide him a real test. Maybe AA New Hampshire is in his future, a la Rowdy Tellez.
For right now, Alford is working his game against other high ceiling prospects in Arizona. And, he is holding his own. Perhaps, what we are seeing is the development of what his game will end up looking like. He is showing signs of living up to the excitement that we’ve heard about for a while now. This winter and spring will go a long way to telling us just how excited the Blue Jays organization is.
*Featured Image Credit: Buck Davidson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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