Alford was drafted by the Jays in the third round in 2012 from high school in Petal, Mississippi. He initially played college football at Southern Mississippi and then the University of Mississippi, but in 2015 he turned to baseball full-time and has made rapid progress. He hit .298/.398/.421 in A-ball in ‘15, then as waylaid by injuries in ‘16 and slumped to .236/.344/.378.
Pre-season, Alford was ranked at Number Five on the Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 Prospects for 2017 list, rated Grade B, with the following commentary:
5) Anthony Alford, OF, Grade B: Age 22, third round pick in 2012, hit .236/.344/.378 with nine homers, 18 steals, 53 walks, 117 strikeouts in 339 at-bats in High-A; season hampered by significant injuries including a concussion and a dislocated knee cap; got 75 at-bats in Arizona Fall League and hit .253/.349/.440; big tools with 70-grade speed and significant physical strength, although swing doesn’t translate the power to game action consistently; will draw walks but can be prone to strikeouts; exciting player to watch on the field; more defensive value than Rowdy Tellez and a broader athletic base to work with but also a higher risk of failure. ETA 2019.
Returned to full health in 2017, he’s been excellent so far at Double-A New Hampshire, hitting .325/.411/.455 with nine steals in 10 attempts and a 16/24 BB/K ratio in 123 at-bats. His timetable has obviously moved up and he’s at least a Grade B+ prospect now.
A right-handed hitter and thrower, Alford is listed at 6-1, 215, born July 20, 1994. Speed is Alford’s best tool but his power is respectable and he’s done a good job managing the strike zone, demonstrating much more polish as a hitter than you’d expect given his football background. His only weak tool is his throwing arm but his range and instincts make him a quality center fielder nonetheless.
Ups-and-downs can be expected with just 33 games of Double-A on his resume, but Alford’s combination of broad tools and consistently improving skills should make him a multi-category contributor and very solid regular in the long run.
MLB Prospect Portal video
Matt Pullman video from the Arizona Fall League