On Friday morning, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they have called up outfielder Anthony Alford from Double-A New Hampshire. Alford, who was slashing .325/.411/.455/.867 with 11 home runs through his first 33 games in New Hampshire, is a dynamic star with incredible athleticism and a very good feel for the bat that belies his relative lack of experience in baseball because of his football background.
Anthony Alford MLB debut: what to expect
A former college football player with obvious, unquestionable athleticism in his game, Anthony Alford took the Arizona Fall League by storm in October and November of 2016 with stellar foot speed on the bases, exceptional bat speed at the plate, and a surprisingly mature approach at home plate that you wouldn’t expect based on his extensive football history. Considering how long he focused on football at the University of Mississippi and Southern Miss, it’s a credit to the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder that he has such a mature, patient approach at the plate and an early understanding of how he’s being pitched, as he’s only now focused on baseball full-time for a few short years.
Alford has everything you could want from a rangy, athletic center fielder of the future: exceptional speed combined with good instincts on the bases, good range and aggressive, hard-charging routes in the outfield, and even some sneaky power in his bat that could turn into 20 home run-level production in the big leagues if things all go in a best-case scenario. His speed is plus, he’ll thrive in center field, and he’ll wreak havoc on the base paths. He can mix it with good raw power, the product of great bat speed and an athletic swing that lets him hit the ball to all fields with authority; right-center, in particular, is a very good power alley for him let alone the pull side.
But the most surprising part of Alford’s Fall League tenure, at least to me, was his ability to show patience at the plate. Being a former high-level college football player, you’d imagine that with a relative lack of baseball experience, he’d be jumpy at the plate as he continues to learn his strike zone. That’s not the case here, though, and Alford shows good patience and an even better sense of balance as he adjusts and reacts to breaking balls and difficult pitcher’s counts. That alone may be the best predictor of success right now for Alford. He’s not up there to hack as much as he is take a decent at-bat, and that bore itself out both in the Arizona Fall League last winter, and in New Hampshire this past month (16 walks against 24 strikeouts in his first 33 games). Seeing that, you can’t help but wonder if he’s a natural fit for the top of a batting order in the big leagues.
Serious injuries in 2016 robbed Alford of much of the year, and he had to play some catch-up in the Fall League to get back to where he needs to be entering 2017. He’s hot now coming out of the Eastern League, and it’d seem this is the season he not only solidifies his top prospect reputation, but in a best-case scenario gets a taste of life in the big leagues. We’ll see how long he’s up there with the Toronto Blue Jays in this stint, of course, but long term he’s good enough to be a centerfielder of the future, and the Jays will have to figure out how to fit him in their lineup accordingly.
Below, we’ve got a bunch of videos and GIFs of the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder; for more Anthony Alford MLB debut analysis and notes, you can visit his player page by clicking here.
Anthony Alford MLB debut: videos
Below, here are a few of our looks at Anthony Alford during the Arizona Fall League, including our first full video of his ABs:
And our second full video:
Oh, and a home run swing broken out for good measure, too:
Anthony Alford MLB debut: GIFs, swing mechanics
In addition to home runs, here are a bunch of shareable Anthony Alford GIFs: