18 Sep

back for more

Anthony Alford is back in the big leagues, looking for his first at-bat since May 13. The former Petal High star was recalled from the minors by Toronto on Monday; he is not in tonight’s lineup against Baltimore. Alford, 24, had a tough year at Triple-A Buffalo, batting .240 with five homers and 17 steals. He was injured in big league camp in the spring and got into just seven games with Blue Jays in May before heading to the minors. In 22 MLB at-bats over the last two years, the erstwhile college quarterback has three hits. Alford’s prospect star has dimmed a bit from what it once was, though he is still rated No. 5 in the Toronto system by MLB Pipeline. The remains of this season could be important to his future. Alford said he is particularly pumped about playing in the big leagues with his brother-in-law, Jonathan Davis, who came up through the minors with him. “We’re both here and now it’s just a matter of going out there and playing and having fun,” Alford told the Toronto Sun. P.S. Mississippi State product Nathaniel Lowe, a rising prospect in Tampa Bay’s organization, will lead Durham against Memphis in tonight’s Triple-A championship game in Columbus, Ohio. Lowe, named to Baseball America’s Minor League All-Stars second team, batted .260 with four homers for Durham and .330 with 27 bombs over three levels on the year. Suiting up for Memphis, St. Louis’ top affiliate, is ex-Ole Miss star Chris Ellis, who went 6-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 16 games for the Redbirds. The 6 p.m. game will be broadcast by the NBC Sports Network.

11 Aug

whatever happened to …

Anthony Alford has been on the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect lists for several years. That’s kind of a problem. You don’t want to be on those lists for too long. You want to be in the big leagues. Former Petal High star Alford turned 24 in July. The right-handed hitting outfielder, who has a total of 22 MLB at-bats, is currently at Triple-A Buffalo and not exactly tearing it up. In 83 games, he is batting .223 with five homers, 24 RBIs, 43 runs and 13 steals. The launch of his pro baseball career was delayed while he played college football, and he has endured a variety of injuries, including a setback this spring in big league camp. When MLB Pipeline updated its top 100 prospects chart last month, Alford dropped from No. 47 to No. 94. Other young outfielders have emerged in the Blue Jays’ system: Teoscar Hernandez, Dwight Smith Jr., Dalton Pompey and Jonathan Davis. Alford is still on the 40-man roster, so one assumes he’ll get a call-up when rosters expand in September. He’ll need to show something.

23 Jun

the search

If he could bottle it, he surely would. Anthony Alford flashed his remarkable potential on Friday night, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple, two runs and an RBI for Triple-A Buffalo in an 8-3 loss to Lehigh Valley. The performance earned the former Petal High star a mention on the Prospect Report segment of MLB Network’s Quick Pitch. But that kind of performance has been rare for Alford this season. He is batting just .217 with a homer, 10 RBIs and eight steals in 42 games for the Toronto affiliate. During a brief stint in the big leagues, the powerfully built outfielder hit .143. Alford has been one of Toronto’s top-rated prospects for several years but, due in part to myriad injuries, has been fighting to find consistency. That search is the key to advancement for every minor leaguer, the key to moving off the prospect chart and into a big league job. Former Harrison Central star Bobby Bradley, a highly regarded Cleveland prospect, is scuffling in his second tour of Double-A ball. The lefty-hitting first baseman had a three-hit game for Akron on Thursday night that included his 12th homer. His power is not an issue; he now has 99 bombs in his five-year minor league career. Consistent contact is what he seeks; he is batting just .196. Former Mississippi State standout Brent Rooker, playing Double-A ball in just his second pro season, has been hot and cold for Minnesota’s Chattanooga club. He struggled much of the first two months, found a groove at the start of June, then fell into another funk. He has hit just .211 in his last 10 games — and is at .263 for the season — but did begin the second half on Thursday with a home run, No. 10 on the year. Sometimes, it’s just tough luck that stalls a prospect’s upward mobility. Ex-DeSoto Central star Austin Riley was playing well at Triple-A Gwinnett after his promotion from Mississippi, hitting .284 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 26 games for the Stripers. But Atlanta’s third baseman of the future suffered a knee injury that has kept him out since June 3. It’s unclear when he might get back on track.

28 Feb

coming soon

The time is near for Anthony Alford’s breakthrough. Has to be. The former Mr. Baseball from Petal isn’t penciled in as a regular outfielder for Toronto just yet, but he is in the competition for a spot on the 25-man roster. And he’s off to a good start this spring. Alford had a hit, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs in the Blue Jays’ 7-1 Grapefruit League win against Philadelphia today. He is 5-for-12 overall with a home run, a triple and six RBIs. This comes on the heels of a strong performance in the Mexican Pacific League over the winter. He batted .352 with a pair of homers, 15 RBIs and eight steals. Alford, 23, made his big league debut last season, but his stay was curtailed after eight at-bats by a hand injury. He had good numbers in Double-A before and after the injury. Alford’s career started slowly while he played football at Southern Miss and Ole Miss. He has played only 391 games over six seasons. But he has impressed. MLB Pipeline rates him the No. 3 prospect in the Jays’ system and No. 47 overall. He goes 6 feet 1, 215 pounds and is considered the fastest player in Toronto’s organization. His time is near.

21 Dec

waiting in the wings

You won’t find Anthony Alford’s name on the Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield depth chart that appears on mlb.com. But the former Petal High star will certainly get a long look in spring training, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him make the opening day roster. Alford, 23, has enhanced his credentials with his play in the Mexican Pacific League, a winter assignment he reportedly asked for. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound right-handed hitter is riding a nine-game hit streak that has boosted his average to .344. He has two homers, 15 RBIs, 17 runs and eight steals in 23 games for Jalisco. “Anthony can make your day on and off the field on a regular basis,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins recently told the Toronto Sun. Alford spent most of 2017 in Double-A, batting .310 with five homers. He played four games in the majors early in the season before being derailed by a hand injury. Expect his next big league stay to be much longer.

06 Dec

quality at-bats

Limited to 81 games – four in the majors — in 2017 because of injury, Anthony Alford is making up for the lost at-bats in the Mexican Pacific League. The ex-Petal High star, a highly rated Toronto prospect, debuted for Jalisco on Nov. 22 and is batting .367 over his first 12 games. He has two three-hit games with a homer, six RBIs and eight runs. Alford, 23, jumped from Double-A to the big leagues last May but got hurt and spent the rest of the season in the minors. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound outfielder batted .310 with five homers in 68 games at New Hampshire. P.S. Detroit has signed veteran Leonys Martin, ostensibly to compete with Richton High product JaCoby Jones for the center field job. Jones batted .170 with three homers, 13 RBIs and six steals in 56 games with the Tigers. He was hit in the face by a pitch early in the season and spent time on the disabled list.

13 Jul

divergent

Anthony Alford is back in Dunedin of the Florida State League, where he is reunited with fellow Mississippian D.J. Davis. The 2012 Toronto draft picks have seen their careers veer off in very different directions. Alford, a third-round selection out of Petal High, is in A-ball again on a major league rehab assignment. The outfielder, who turns 23 next week, was batting .325 with three homers and nine steals at Double-A New Hampshire when he was promoted to the big leagues on May 19. He was 1-for-8 before suffering a broken left wrist and landing on the disabled list on May 24. Alford, whose career was stalled for a couple of years while he played college football, is rated among the top prospects in the Blue Jays’ system. He is No. 38 on Baseball America’s most recent chart of the Top 100 overall. Davis, a first-round draftee out of Stone County, was once a highly rated prospect himself. Not so much now. The outfielder, who turns 23 on July 25, is in his second season at Dunedin after spending two years in low-A ball. He is batting .218 with 19 steals but has just six extra-base hits. He batted .197 in 2016. Perhaps inspired by Alford’s arrival, Davis went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for Dunedin on Wednesday. He needs a lot more days like that in what remains of his season.

24 May

ouch

The day after getting his first big league knock, former Petal High star Anthony Alford has landed on the disabled list with a fractured hamate bone in his left wrist. Reports say Alford could be out six weeks. One of Toronto’s highest-rated prospects, Alford was batting .325 with three homers, 11 RBIs and nine steals in his Double-A debut when he was called up last week. He is 1-for-8 for the Blue Jays. The 22-year-old outfielder has been snakebit with injury issues the last two seasons.

19 May

debut alert

Ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford, promoted to the big leagues today by Toronto, is in the starting lineup for tonight’s game at Baltimore, according to mlb.com. He’s batting eighth and playing left field. It might be a one-day visit, but still, it’s The Show. The former Mr. Baseball (and Mr. Football) at Petal is batting .325 with three homers and nine steals at Double-A New Hampshire. He has hit .382 over his last 10 games. Alford, 6 feet 1, 215 pounds, was a third-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2012. After playing football at Southern Miss and then Ole Miss, he turned to baseball full-time in 2015. In 257 minor league games, Alford is batting .273 with 19 homers, 98 RBIs and 65 steals.

11 Apr

making the jump

Splash some water on Anthony Alford. He’s that hot. The former Petal High star is 9-for-12 with four walks through his first four games at the Double-A level. He has scored three runs, driven in two and stolen a base for New Hampshire in the Toronto system. Alford, 22, was drafted in the third round out of Petal in 2012 but this will be only his third full season in the minors since he gave up football at Ole Miss. The outfielder, rated the Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America, made the 40-man roster in the off-season and drew praise for his progress from Toronto manager John Gibbons in spring training. Alford’s time is coming. … Gulfport native Bobby Bradley’s first taste of Double-A hasn’t been as sweet. The ex-Harrison Central standout is 3-for-16 in five games for Akron, Cleveland’s Eastern League club. On a positive note, the 20-year-old Bradley, the Indians’ No. 5 prospect, slugged his first homer on Monday; he now has 65 in 285 minor league games. P.S. Itawamba Community College alum Desmond Jennings is 3-for-13 through four games for Triple-A Las Vegas in the New York Mets’ system. The 30-year-old MLB veteran was released by Tampa Bay last summer and by Cincinnati this spring. Injuries have plagued Jennings the past couple of years.