Having struggled in the past, it might be time to give Anthony Alford another shot on the Blue Jays roster
Anthony Alford‘s professional baseball career has been an up and down ride so far.
Drafted in 2012, Alford was a two sport athlete. He split playing time between baseball and football before committing full time to baseball and the Jays organization in September of 2014.
Alford was previously ranked as the Blue Jays’ 3rd best minor league prospect behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.and Bo Bichette. His ranking has slid over the past two seasons. He is currently ranked as the Jays’ 9th best prospect by MLB.
His minor league career has been up and down. At times he has been very good. At other times he has struggled. He has also dealt with a number of injuries which have slowed his progress.
In April of this season at AAA Buffalo, Alford hit .132/.213/.265. His numbers were much better in May at .276/.355/.429. In June he has been outstanding at .389/.488/.583. Ideally, when a minor league prospect is ready for MLB, he should be dominating minor league competition. He is doing that now.
Alford has yet to have success in the majors but let’s be completely fair to him. He has played in 18 games over parts of three seasons. In order to improve, he needs consistent at bats with the Jays over a longer period of time to give him a chance to adjust to pitching at the highest level. With his talent, he has a good chance to do much better than his current MLB slash line of .100/.156/.133.
Alford has impressive physical tools. Fangraphs rates his raw power as 60 grade and speed as 70 (on a scale of 20-80 with 50 being MLB average). Unfortunately his hit tool is graded as 40 and game power also 40 with the potential to improve to 45.
What does this mean? Alford has physical talent that can’t be taught. The gap between in game hitting skills and raw power could mean that he hits very well in batting practice, but in games he doesn’t always make necessary adjustments. This is something that he could learn with experience and coaching, at least in theory.
Let’s assume that Justin Smoak will be traded at some point and Rowdy Tellez will be the everyday 1B. The Jays don’t appear to have a full time DH which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They have been using Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk as their starting outfield most days. Neither Cavan Biggio or Brandon Drury are natural outfielders. Neither is ideal as a fourth outfielder.
Bringing Alford in to the mix would give them a good outfield defender with offensive potential. Rather than using any of the four outfielders as a “fourth outfielder” on the bench, they could all share the playing time. They could each have a “semi day off” as the DH here and there. That way everyone gets the consistent at bats they need to succeed at the major league level without being over worked.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo seems to manage this way in any event. All players get scheduled days off. Nobody sits on the bench for several games without any playing time, unless they are dealing with injuries.
As a rebuilding team, the Jays’ goal in 2019 is to put together a team that can contend in the future. It’s time to find out if Alford can be a part of that.
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