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.
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.
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.
Former Madison Central High standout Spencer Turnbull, trying to make a case for a spot on Detroit’s 40-man roster, is having mixed results in the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander, who would be eligible for next month’s Rule 5 draft if not protected, is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in six starts for Mesa. He worked 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday, yielding three runs on six hits and two walks while taking the loss. A 2014 second-round pick out of Alabama, Turnbull has endured two straight injury-plagued seasons (shoulder, elbow). He was 7-3, 3.05 at Class A Lakeland in 2017, then went 0-3, 6.20 in six Double-A starts at Erie. MLB Pipeline rates Turnbull as the No. 28 prospect in the Tigers’ system. Reports say he has big league stuff — he just needs to stay healthy. P.S. Meanwhile, down in Mexico, David Goforth is hoping to catch someone’s attention with his showing in the Mexican Pacific League. A minor league free agent, the Neshoba Central High and Ole Miss alum has a 1.96 ERA in 16 appearances for Culiacan, with a win and two saves. Despite solid numbers in Triple-A in 2017, Goforth, 29, only got one big league appearance with Milwaukee. He has pitched in 31 MLB games overall – all for the Brewers — since 2015. In 2014, with Huntsville in the Southern League, he put up 27 saves.
The postseason is on the boil in the Mexican Pacific League, and former Ole Miss standout David Goforth is rising to the occasion for Culiacan. Goforth, a Milwaukee farmhand, worked two scoreless innings on Thursday and got the win as the Tomateros beat Hermosillo 8-7 to go up 2-1 in the first-round series. (Joey Meneses, who played for the 2016 Mississippi Braves, had two hits and an RBI for Culiacan.) Goforth pitched 1 2/3 clean innings on Tuesday. He also got some work this off-season in the Venezuelan Winter League, producing a 4.70 ERA in nine games for Lara. After posting a 10.97 ERA in 10 big league games and a 4.91 in Triple-A in 2016, Goforth was designated for assignment by the Brewers in November. The 28-year-old right-hander from Meridian cleared waivers and was outrighted to the AAA Colorado Springs roster. He’ll likely begin his seventh pro season there.
John Lindsey, the legendary slugger from Hattiesburg, added to his career home run tally this month when he went deep for Navojoa in a Mexican Pacific League game. Lindsey, who turns 39 in January, has belted 377 homers as a pro: 46 in winter league play, 309 in the minor leagues and 22 more in independent ball. He did not homer in his 11-game MLB stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010. In 15 games this winter for Navojoa, the last on Dec. 17, Lindsey batted .145 with the one homer and six RBIs. He played 18 games for Tijuana in the Triple-A Mexican League last summer and last played in affiliated ball in 2013 with Detroit’s Triple-A Toledo club. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Lindsey has appeared in 2,277 pro games going back to 2005, with a .284 batting average, 1,215 runs and 1,536 RBIs.
Forget Young-Dickey and Hendricks-deGrom for a moment. How about Clemens-Boyd? There is a fairly compelling pitching matchup tonight in Tempe, Ariz., when 354-game winner Roger Clemens goes against fellow former Boston Red Sox star Oil Can Boyd in Men’s Senior Baseball League action. Meridian native and ex-Jackson State star Boyd, 56, pitches for the Boston Wolf Pack, Clemens, 53, for the Houston Old Stars. Boyd went 78-77 in 10 big league seasons (1982-91) and pitched for many more years in independent ball. Clemens last pitched in the majors in 2007 but threw in indy ball just a couple years ago. Regardless of what kind of stuff either has left, it should be a good show. P.S. Cody Satterwhite, the former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout, is currently pitching in the Mexican Pacific League. Satterwhite, in his eighth pro season, posted a 4.38 ERA, two wins and two saves for Triple-A Las Vegas in the New York Mets’ system. The big right-hander is still chasing the big league dream.
In the winter leagues, January is akin to October, which means it’s postseason time. In the first round of the Mexican Pacific League playoffs, a pair of Mississippians are on opposing sides in the Obregon-Mexicali series. On Tuesday, Hattiesburg native John Lindsey belted a two-run homer — one of his four hits — in the first inning to propel Mexicali to a 6-4 victory that staved off elimination. Alcorn State product Corey Wimberly went 3-for-5 with an RBI for Obregon, which leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. Daniel Castro, the Mississippi Braves’ shortstop last season, had a hit for Obregon, as well. Neither Wimberly, who played in the Minnesota system in 2014, nor the 37-year-old Lindsey, who played in Mexico, is under contract with an MLB organization for 2015.
From all indications, Corey Wimberly has still got game. The former Alcorn State standout, 31 and a veteran of 10 minor league campaigns, is batting .291 with 17 stolen bases for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League. He went 3-for-3 with a home run, a sac and three RBIs on Tuesday and 1-for-4 with a run on Wednesday. What Wimberly doesn’t have is a team for 2015. He’s a 5-foot-8 switch-hitter with speed who can play the outfield or second base. And he’s hungry, still hoping for that first taste of the big leagues. Surely, he fits someone’s shopping list. … Also still looking for a place to play: Paul Maholm (Mississippi State alum), Phil Irwin (Ole Miss), Justin Henry (Ole Miss) and Matt Tolbert (Ole Miss). Veteran left-hander Maholm is coming off a poor year (with the Los Angeles Dodgers) and an injury. Irwin made one appearance for Texas and was released in August. Henry, an infielder/outfielder, was in Triple-A with Boston in 2014, and Tolbert, an infielder with big-league time, was also in the minors (with Philadelphia) recovering from injury.
It’ll be interesting to see how ex-Mississippi Braves standout Todd Cunningham fits into Atlanta’s plans in 2015. Cunningham, a switch-hitting outfielder, is batting .282 with five runs and two steals through 11 games with Licey in the Dominican Winter League. This after batting .287 with eight homers, 58 RBIs and 19 bags at Triple-A Gwinnett this past season. Cunningham, a second-round pick out of Jacksonville State in Alabama in 2010, has hit at every level, including a 2-for-8 showing in the big leagues in 2013. With the M-Braves in 2012, he impressed with a .309 average, three homers, 51 RBIs and 24 steals. He is currently leading off for Licey and playing center field. He can play anywhere in the outfield, which might make him a valuable piece for the remodeled Braves. P.S. John Lindsey, the veteran slugger from Hattiesburg, has nine homers through 21 games in the Mexican Pacific League. He is batting .282 with 20 RBIs for Navojoa.