Toronto Blue Jays 2012 third round pick and aspiring safety for Ole Miss University, Anthony Alford, finished his schooling for the year and arrived in Florida Sunday. What follows is anyone’s guess, including, I’d surmise, the Jays themselves. They’ll need to see what kind of shape Alford is in, how he reacts to everyday baseball activities, and where there is an opening that fits. If I was a betting man, I’m laying odds that he’ll remain in extended until the short season teams open up, with an assignment to Bluefield my prediction (regular readers will know to discount my ‘predictions’).
What I do know is that the Jays will continue their full court press to convince Alford to forego college football in order to focus on baseball full-time. This is nothing new, I’m sure they have been doing it since the day after they drafted him. With Alford red-shirting last year they have upped the pressure though, sending Tim Raines and Fred McGriff to speak to him (very reasonably I’m sure) about how baseball provides a far brighter future.
I also got word that fellow ’12 draftee Matt Smoral made the trip to Mississippi to visit with Alford on campus. Now, the
information I got wasn’t directly from Smoral but a secondary source. From what I can gather, Alford is treated rather well at school. A ‘rock star’ so to speak. May colour ones thinking when trying to make a decision between being a on-campus celebrity or long distance bus traveller.
Apparently Alford saw significant time in Ole Miss’ Regions Bank Grove (or Spring Game) Bowl even if he didn’t make the stat sheet. So there is a very real chance he sees decent playing time a year after sitting out and two years after struggling as a quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi. That being said, reading this article, it seems there’s an All American safety ahead of him on the depth chart as well as a stud freshman. So who knows. I’m no college football expert and the one I reached out too hasn’t bothered to answer my desperate pleas for information. The only way to know if the Petal, Mississippi succeeds at his new position and new school is to wait until the football season is over.
What we do know is that a projectable but very raw athlete is going to be behind the baseball curve when he trades his baseball gloves for football ones in June. Fans of Toronto’s minor league system are still suffering through the daily ups and downs of Jays 2012 first overall pick D.J. Davis, and he’s had three full spring trainings and seasons behind him.
Both Davis and Alford hail from small towns in Mississippi and everything you read touches on the ‘rawness’ of products of the Magnolia State (something I’m endeavouring to research more on). There is no doubting Alford’s athletic ability. Everyone I speak to raves about it. But you can’t help but think that if he plays even two more years of football then he’ll be too far behind the baseball curve to catch up.
Would still like to see him at the Nat though.