Here’s a look at why Blue Jays top outfield prospect, Anthony Alford, should be promoted to help fill the Buffalo Bisons’ hole in the Outfield
Not even a week into the minor league season and the Buffalo Bisons are experiencing depth problems. After striking out 3 times in 4 at-bats in the Bisons 2nd game of the year, Darrell Ceciliani found himself heading to the disabled list.
Ceciliani missed a chunk of time at the beginning of the last season as well. He was able to bound back with an OPS of .764 and 10 home runs but injuries seem to be a reoccurring issue for the Bisons outfield.
With Ceciliani on the shelf, Bisons manager Bob Meachem needed to get creative in filling out his lineups. Ian Parmley, the clubs 4th outfielder, has seen more playing and infielder Jake Elmore has seen time in left field.
The 27-yr-old Parmley has filled in nicely in Ceciliani’s absence. Parmley is a prototypical 4th outfielder. He doesn’t hit enough or with enough power to hold down an everyday job but hits enough and plays good enough defense to still get at-bats.
Parmley had a career year in 2016 with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats when he slashed .294/.356/.379 with a .735 OPS. His 6 triples are impressive but only hitting 6 doubles and 2 HR with 75 strikeouts are less impressive.
This is where New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Toronto Blue Jays top outfield prospect Anthony Alford comes into the picture.
While I believe that Roemon Field will get the call up to Buffalo, I feel that Anthony Alford is a better option.
I like Roemon Fields. I actually thought that he’d start the season with the Bisons. Fields has speed, he plays a mean outfield, and he doesn’t need regular playing time; however, despite Fields have elite speed and Parmley doesn’t, they fill the same role….4th outfielders.
On the other hand, Anthony Alford is an up and coming Major League outfielder. A regular. A guy which makes your team better.
Alford is on the rise. He had a rough season in 2016. A season filled with sky-high expectations.
After breaking out in 2015 season, the former football standout appeared primed to ascend quickly through the Blue Jays minor league system. Despite his strong 2015 stats, stats that seemed to have Alford heading to Double-A New Hampshire to start the 2016 season, Alford was assigned to the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
With a batting average of .302 and a.825 OPS with the D-Jays 2015, it seemed as though Alford would dominate the level and quickly move up to Double-A. Unfortunately, a collision at home plate during the D-Jays season opener sent Alford’s season swirling.
The collision at home plate injured Alford’s knee and landed him on the disabled list for a month and he wasn’t himself upon his return.
It took Alford close to two months to regain his form but regain his form he did. After struggling in May (.238 BA) and June (.136 BA), he batted .255 and .277 in July and August. He went from striking out 43 times in May to just 24 times in July while playing in the same number of games. Oh, and he also doubled his walks.
The Blue Jays manager went on record as saying he had ‘doubts’ about Alford’s ability to transition from football player to major league outfielder. Gibby went on to say, “He always had a great, powerful swing, but last year he didn’t make the adjustments in spring training. He was facing some of the better pitchers.”(full article), referring to Alford 2016 Spring Training experience.
It appears that Alford learned a thing or two from his 2016 struggles. Gibbons went on to praise the young man,
“This year, he comes out, he sees the ball better, he’s able to foul off breaking balls, stay alive. I’ll tell you what, he’s hit as many rockets down here as anybody in camp. He hit a lot of at-’em balls, but I was really impressed. I thought he played the outfield very well. He’s got a better arm than I thought he had. So in a year’s time, I’ve seen as much improvement out of him as any kid I’ve ever seen.” (full article)
During spring training Alford hit 2 doubles, a triple, and a homerun but batted just .188 with 15 strikeouts. While spring training stats don’t mean squat, this had to be a little disconcerting. Fortunately, the 6-foot-1 native of Mississippi been able to put all those concerns behind him with a strong start.
And a strong start he’s produced.
Anthony Alford has collected hits in each of New Hampshire’s games to open the season. With a 5-game hit streak, a trio of 2-hit games, a 3-hit game, and an improved BB/K ratio, Alford appears to be on his way to a very good season.
Now is the time to promote Alford to Buffalo. He’s is seeing the ball very well and if he can carry that success and with him to Buffalo it will allow his confidence to grow. It will also bring him once step closer to Toronto.
Whether Alford or Field get the call up to Buffalo it likely won’t be for an extended stay. The Bison hope to have Dalton Pompey back in the fold soon but how great would it be to see Anthony Alford getting regular at-bats at Triple-A?
Have your say. Leave a comment.
*Featured Image Credit: Joel Dinda UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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