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.

11 Jun

stuff

Former Petal High star Anthony Alford is in a Florida hospital after suffering an apparent neck injury in an on-field collision during a minor league game Friday night. Alford, taken off on a stretcher, was talking and able to move his limbs, according to various reports, with more tests due today. Alford, a top Toronto prospect playing for Class A Dunedin, suffered a knee injury in the first game of the season and is batting .205 in 32 games. … Now that Tim Anderson has made his MLB debut, joining Chad Girodo and Chris Stratton as Mississippi-connected players reaching The Show this season, one wonders who’ll be next: Cody Reed, Hunter Renfroe, JaCoby Jones … ? … On this date 13 years ago, Holmes Community College alum Roy Oswalt and ex-Jackson Generals star Billy Wagner started and closed a six-man combo no-hitter for Houston against the New York Yankees. It was the first time the Yanks had been no-hit in 45 years. … The Cape Cod Baseball League, the best of the college summer loops, launched its season on Friday. There are 11 Mississippi State players listed on the various rosters, but, of course, they have some other matters to attend to at present. Ole Miss’ Will Golsan and Will Stokes and Southern Miss’ Kirk McCarty are on the Orleans roster, but none of the three played in the Firebirds’ opener. … Former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College coach Cooper Farris, who had been at the helm of the Cape’s Wareham Gatemen since 2001, is not coaching the team this year. During his tenure, Wareham won three CCBL titles (2001, 2002 and 2012). … In case anyone was wondering, Jones County Junior College’s national championship in NJCAA Division II is the first by a Mississippi juco. It is the third by a college-level team from the state: William Carey won an NAIA title in 1969 and Delta State an NCAA Division II crown in 2004.

18 Dec

comin’ on strong

No surprise here: Anthony Alford, the former Petal High standout, has been ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Toronto organization by Baseball America. The magazine had previously named Alford the “best player” in the Blue Jays’ system in 2015. The 21-year-old outfielder is rated the Jays’ No. 2 prospect by mlb.com. Alford may wind up among the Top 50 prospects overall for 2016, according to BA’s John Manuel, who wrote in an online chat on the magazine’s web site: “If he’s not a big league regular in 2-3 years, I’ll be very surprised.” Alford played at two levels of Class A ball in 2015, his first full season in pro ball after giving up football. He batted .293 in low A and .302 in high A over 107 games, with four homers and 27 steals combined. He is a player to be excited about. … Stone County High alum D.J. Davis, also 21 and an outfielder, is rated Toronto’s No. 10 prospect by BA. Davis batted .282 with seven homers and 21 steals at low Class A Lansing last season.

17 Sep

news flashes

Moving past Chris Coghlan’s “dirty” slide (no, it wasn’t) and Rafael Palmeiro’s “comeback” (don’t get it), here’s some baseball news we can sink our teeth into: Former Petal High standout Anthony Alford has been named the best player in Toronto’s minor league system by Baseball America. “He’s truly made progress across the board; every day he finds a way to get better in an aspect of the game,” Tony LaCava, the Blue Jays farm director, told BA. Alford, an erstwhile football star, batted .298 with four homers, 35 RBIs and 27 steals over two levels of A-ball in his first full pro season. He was a third-round pick in 2012. And here’s some more news: Former Southern Miss star B.A. Vollmuth has returned to the Golden Eagles as a volunteer assistant. From 2009-11, the Biloxi native batted .326 with 40 home runs and 153 RBIs. He was an infielder on the 2009 team, with Brian Dozier, that went to the College World Series. Taken in the third round of the 2011 major league draft by Oakland, Vollmuth played four pro seasons, batting .231 with 45 homers, before his release in 2014.