Anthony Alford came into the 2016 campaign as a highly-ranked prospect, but suffered through an injury-plagued season at High-A Dunedin, missing time due to a knee injury as well as a concussion. He managed to stay healthy during the second half of the season and registered a slash line of .257/.381/.449 with 13 steals during that span. He even earned All-Star honors during the Arizona Fall League. Alford is a center fielder by trade with a decent approach, though he still strikes out a bit too much. He fanned 117 times in 92 games at High-A in 2016, but showed a bit more pop than expected. With 18 steals as well, Alford has leadoff hitter potential for the Jays. He should begin the 2017 season at Double-A, looking to stay healthy and make more consistent contact.
Alford, who was promoted this year to Double-A New Hampshire, is slashing .500/.590/.656 through his first 46 plate appearances with the Fisher Cats. The Jays' No. 3 prospect is off to a blazing start in his first round of Eastern League competition. Not only does Alford lead the team in batting average and on-base percentage, but the outfielder's five steals also rank first on the roster. He's not expected to make the jump to MLB in 2017, but with a good season at New Hampshire, Alford could make a strong case for consideration on the big-league club's 25-man-roster in 2018.
Alford was optioned to minor league camp Friday, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet.ca reports. While Alford looked overmatched during his time in big-league camp, striking out 15 times in 32 Grapefruit League plate appearances, that should do little to ding his appeal in keeper leagues with minor league roster spots. With a quick bat, good speed and a relatively advanced approach for his level of experience, Alford has a clear case as a top-100 prospect for fantasy purposes. He could make the leap to Double-A to begin 2017.
Alford believes a positive mentality is his key to overcoming a difficult 2016 season, J. Scott Butherus of MLB.com reports. After a promising 2015 in which he hit .298 with 36 extra-base hits and 27 stolen bases in 107 minor-league games, Alford was thrown for a loop last season. The Jays' No. 3 prospect battled knee injuries to start the campaign, and later suffered a severely strained neck and concussion that left him hospitalized. The outfielder limped to a .236 average last year while posting a brutal 35 percent strikeout rate. "I think if you focus on the negative you'll tend to have negative results," Alford said. "I try to find the positive in all the negatives, whatever it is. I mean, I struggled last year but I feel like I was able to grow, not just a player but as a man." Despite notching just two hits in 10 at-bats this spring, the team's bench coach, DeMarlo Hale, said the 22-year-old has looked good in camp. "We've been letting [Alford] do his thing and he's getting better, which is good to see. From this year to last year, he has made some strides," Hale said. Alford will likely begin the 2017 campaign at Double-A, but under the right circumstances, he could receive a mid-summer call up for a few MLB at-bats.
Alford was added to the Blue Jays' 40-man roster on Friday, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. Alford's weak numbers at high-A Dunedin this season hide an encouraging road for the prospect, as a knee injury and concussion plagued him in the first half and likely hurt his numbers. He improved immensely in the second half, registering a .257/.381/.449 line with 13 steals, and he earned All-Star honors in Arizona Fall League. He remains at least a year away from the majors, but he very much remains a significant prospect fro Toronto.
Alford has been named to the Arizona Fall League All-Star team, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. Following a strong season for High-A Dunedin, Alford is continuing to showcase his talent as he ascends through the Jays' system. The team's No. 4 prospect made the All-Star roster after hitting .295/.380/.523 with two home runs and eight RBI over 44 at-bats. Alford's also showed some speed through 12 games, swiping three bags and legging out a triple. The 22-year-old is not far from getting a crack at the major league level, but Alford is unlikely to make fantasy-worthy contributions for another year or two.
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