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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Anthony Alford

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With just a couple of months until the 2017 Blue Jays season starts (we open the season April 3, in Baltimore. It is two months on the calendar, 4 years in Tom perceived time. The off-season seems to last forever.), I thought we'd take a look at the Blue Jays 40-man roster, one at a time. Try to figure out where they fit with the team and see what the important question is for each. I was going to call it 40 in 40, but the odds of me keeping up the one a day rate for 40 days is slim (at best). And, I imagine, there will be some changes to the 40-man roster over the 40 days.

First on our list is Anthony Alford.

You all know the story. Picked by the Jays in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. He ‘fell’ to the 3rd round because he was committed to playing football at Southern Miss. He was a two-sport athlete in high school, winning Mississippi’s Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball awards.

In 2012, he played quarterback for Southern Miss, a pretty big deal for a Freshman. Poor play and personal issues (assault and gun charges can fall under the umbrella of personal issues, right?) cost him his role on the team and he transferred to Ole Miss. There he changed from a quarterback to a safety. I might not know a ton about football, but I know that’s a demotion. Suddenly baseball became a better option.

Alford has been trying to make up for lost time ever since. He even went to Australia to play. In 2015, his first full season in the Jays minor league system, he hit .298/.398/.421 in 107 games, split between Lansing and Dunedin. And he earned top spot on our prospect list a year ago.

2016 wasn’t as kind to him. He hit .236/.344/.378 in 92 games at Dunedin. Being fair to him, he dealt with a couple of injuries, including a concussion. I’m willing to give him a mulligan for the season.

He did much better in the AFL, hitting .253/.349/.440 with 3 home runs and 8 steals in 72 at bats.

Where does he play this year?

The fun part is we’ll see him play in spring training. I’d imagine he’ll get a fair bit of playing time, not that they would be considering him for a job on the Jays, but they will want to see what he can do. Let him show off a bit.

He’s an exciting player, it would be fun watching him run wild in spring.

After that, likely New Hampshire. He plays well, it would be great to get him to Buffalo. He’ll be 23 in July, so even though he hasn’t had all that much playing time in the minors, it would be good to push him a bit.

Any chance we see him in Toronto?

Well, he’s on the 40-man roster, so there is a chance. There are a couple of possibilities:

  • Jays are in the race and he gets a September call up to be the pinch runner deluxe, Dalton Pompey’s role the last couple of Septembers.
  • Or the Jays fall out of the race, God forbid, and the team tires of the other guys who could play left field or we decide to sell off some outfielders. I know the idea of Ezequiel and Melvin doesn’t excite me all that much. Maybe the team decides they should give some at bats to someone who could help the team in the future.
  • Or perhaps he has a great start to the year, and he passes by Pompey and makes himself the clear choice if anyone was to get injured.

I’m not saying it is likely but there is a chance we’ll see him.

I think it’s really a big year for Anthony. If he has a good one, he sets himself up for a shot at the major league team in 2018. If he has a year more like last year’s, well, he’ll be 23 and will be trending the wrong way.