Considering he has yet to take an at-bat at the Triple-A level, it’s a pretty big deal that Anthony Alford earned a promotion to the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays straight from Double-A; that stuff only seems to happen in MLB The Show after going on a June tear with the sliders turned all the way up.
From playing in front of a couple hundred fans in the Eastern League to patrolling the Camden Yards outfield Friday night, Alford’s upgrade comes on the heels of a two-game suspension to center fielder Kevin Pillar, who probably has no business being where he’s at today — a piece of the Blue Jays’ future. The latter was a cheap lottery ticket for Toronto in the form of a 32nd-round selection in the 2011.
It’s ironic in that Pillar received his first call-up in 2013 after an injury in the Blue Jays outfield. He earned a starting job shortly thereafter and hasn’t looked back.
Can Alford make the same jump that Pillar did?
The 22-year-old Alford is a football-turned-baseball player who was delivering jarring hits from the Ole Miss secondary before picking up a bat full time. He was a third-round pick with first-round talent had he zeroed in on the diamond instead of pursuing a career on the gridiron.
For now, he’s just a fill-in while Pillar serves his time for two games, but it’s a low-risk option for the Jays to call up their top outfield prospect.
It’s about time that Toronto, which is off to an 18-24 start and falling further and further away from the top of the AL East despite it being only May 19, takes a gamble to shake off the cobwebs.
It’s an offense that hasn’t hit expectations with both poor performance at the plate and injuries alike. Maybe it’s time to see what Alford’s bat — he was slashing .325/.411/.455 at Double-A prior to the call-up — is all about and at least get a glimpse of what to expect in the future. At six games under .500 and in dire need of a shake-up, there’s not much to lose at this point.
There could be another prize under this lottery ticket; Toronto just has to scratch to find out.