Blue Jays Top Outfield Prospect, Anthony Alford, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a strained hamstring.
My recent guess-itmation of how the Blue Jays minor league outfields would line up this season took a hit when the news surrounding Anthony Alford strained hamstring surfaced. Toronto’s prized outfield is expected to need 4-6 weeks to heal, barring any setbacks.
While the loss of the immensely talented outfielder is unlikely to be felt in Toronto, it will have a domino effect on the how much playing time a couple minor league outfielders will be getting in April.
In my prediction piece, I expected the Buffalo Bisons would have an outfield of Teoscar Hernandez, Alford, and Dalton Pompey (Even Pompey is nursing a wrist thingy). This trio would be backed up by the speedy Roemon Fields and Dwight Smith Jr.
With Alford expected to miss the first month the Triple-A season, Dwight Smith Jr. should assume the majority of Anthony Alford’s at-bats with Roemon Fields getting a few extra at-bats, defensive replacement, and pinch running duties.
Not so fast.
I’ve been cheering Dwight Smith Jr. on for many a moon. I think that he has the skills to provide a major league team with replacement level production. He is a very good LF, with the ability to produce quality at-bats. He can hit 20 plus doubles, maybe 10-15 HR, and 10-15 SB with regular at-bats.
I also like Reomon Fields. His speed is game-changing. A single or walk is not just a single or walk because his legs will undoubtedly put him into scoring position. He does everything you want from a 4th outfielder/bench player. He bunts and plays all outfield positions.
Both players have had success in Triple-A. Smith Jr. batted .273 with 21 doubles, a triple, 8 home runs, and 8 SB in 108 games with the Bisons in 2017. Fields hit .283 with 13 doubles, 6 triples, and 50 SB between New Hampshire and Buffalo.
We know what they bring to the table.
So what if Toronto were to give one of its Double-A outfielders a crack at Triple-A?
Let’s assume that Anthony Alford’s hamstring injury heals and he is back on the field May 1st. This would give the Blue Jays brass a 20-ish game evaluation period for one of the system’s top prospects, rather than simply handing those at-bats over to two outfielders this organization clearly doesn’t feel will make an impact at the major league level (Smith/Fields).
This evaluation period would serve to increase the value of the lucky prospect if they succeed or would provide the organization with a better understanding of where they are in their development.
Whether they rise to the occasion or struggle to find their footing, the will head back to Double-A once Alford returns.
I would like to see how Harold Ramirez would handle Triple-A. He just looked bored last season in AA. Challenging him with a promotion may light a fire under his you know where. If he fails, return him to Double-A and maybe re-evaluate his position on the organizational depth chart.
Speed (20 SB), power (10 HR and 20 doubles), and strike zone awareness (.361 OBP). Jonathan Davis flat-out produced in his first season with the Double-A Fisher Cats and would be in Buffalo if it weren’t for the system’s outfield depth. Allowing Davis a chance to compete against older pitching, guys with better breaking pitches would be a good challenge.
It is unlikely that either Davis or Ramirez will receive at-bats over Smith Jr. or Fields (or Ian Parmley) but they should. Too often we view injuries as a negative. Giving players a level lower a shot can turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Someone would have to replace Davis and Ramirez in New Hampshire’s outfield. This replacement was/is unlikely to receive regular playing time and further their development with the misfortune of Anthony Alford.
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