In the discussion comments section for the recent article on Top 75 Mid-season baseball prospects, a reader asked if Toronto Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Alford had been considered for the list. The answer is, no, I didn't consider him. However there is very much an "at this time" caveat on that statement, for Alford is a very intriguing prospect worthy of close examination in the second half of the season.
Alford's athletic tools are first-class. Drafted in the third round in 2012 from high school in Petal, Mississippi, Alford had first-round physical tools but was also committed to the University of Southern Mississippi for football, hampering his draft stock to some extent. The Blue Jays gave him an over-slot $750,000 bonus which allowed him to play college football. He transferred to Old Miss after his freshman year but eventually decided that his future was brighter in baseball.
He barely played the diamond game until 2015: he had a grand total of 94 at-bats entering this season, almost all of them in rookie ball and leading to an undistinguished .234/.339/.393 line. However, with his attention now on baseball full-time his progress this spring and early summer has been enormous.
He opened with .293/.418/.394 line in 50 games for Lansing in the Low-A Midwest League with a 39/60 BB/K and 12 steals in 13 attempts. Recently promoted to Dunedin in the High-A Florida State League, he seems to have found his power stroke with a .342/.395/.532 line through 18 games with six additional steals. The composite line for the year is .307/.412/.434 with 46 walks, 74 strikeouts, and 18 steals in 21 attempts over 68 games, 267 at-bats.
Midwest League observers were taken with his athleticism but also surprised by unexpected polish. He does have some contact issues and his strikeout rate is rather high, but he's also drawn plenty of walks and seems reasonably selective. He uses his speed remarkably well given his lack of experience and looks to have the tools to play center field.
And he's still just 20 years old.
Alford has excellent tools and his skills are better than expected. If his game power continues to develop we're looking at a player with 20/20 potential and a spot on the Top 100. . .if not higher.