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Notes From Blue Jays Minor League Camp – Part Two

Yesterday I focused on the pitching, especially as it pertained to who could end up in Lansing, when writing up the notes I took after speaking to a Jays minor league coach.  Today it’s about the hitters.  Well, two in particular.

Let’s hearken back to my (still yet to be completed) Jays top prospect list, where, when writing up Anthony Alford in the 12 hole, I said:

However, like fellow Mississippi prep product and 2012 draftee D.J. Davis, Alford was drafted more for his athletic ability then any polished baseball skills.

So why is Anthony here while I’ve kicked Davis off of the list entirely?  Especially after Alford struggled in Australia, striking out over a third of the time?  Because the former Ole Miss football player has only 110 plate appearances in his minor league career while Davis has over one thousand.  With Alford we can still dream that the athleticism is converted into baseball chops.

Of course, despite bemoaning Alford’s decision to try his hand at football, thereby limiting his pro at bats, we’re forced to extrapolate from the small sample size.  Throw in fact I’ve never seen Alford (aside from the two or so at bats this spring — where he was seriously overmatched) live and we often need to form our opinions based on those that have seen him.

So, I was thrilled when a Florida based scout I respect got back to me on my question, ‘where would you put Alford developmentally wise in comparison to DJ Davis who has 800 odd more ABs?’

The response was pretty exciting in that it confirms our hopes:

As for Alford, developmentally he’s ahead of DJ Davis in my opinion in just about every category besides pro experience. Davis may be a step or two faster, but I haven’t had a chance to really see Alford go full speed. Alford makes more consistent contact and has a better overall feel for hitting. The power is probably pretty close right now. Davis has some sneaky pop in his bat, but once Alford gets his timing down and faces some pro pitching, I expect him to have some pop of his own. Defensively I’ll take Alford any day over Davis. DJ just doesn’t look comfortable that often. Always out of position and struggles with initial reads off the bat.

Not only does that assessment raise (or just confirm) my Alford expectations but it serves to remind you of how toolsy Davis is.  The kid can flat out fly.  And throw him a straight fastball…..he’ll hit it a mile. Unfortunately pro pitchers don’t throw it straight all the time and having elite level speed doesn’t matter if you struggle to read the game.  Still, at only 20, the Jays won’t give up on Davis just yet, despite fact many scouts have.

Last I heard both Alford and Davis were working in the Lansing group.  Repeating a level is never a great thing but for DJ, probably a necessity.  Why challenge him in Dunedin where he’ll probably fail miserably.  Further eroding whatever confidence he has left.  Confidence is a non-issue for Alford and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds himself back in Florida at some point this season.

Either way, as I mentioned in my pitchers post, reading too much into spring training groups is a fools errand.  I spoke to a minor league player last night who told me guys are moving around all the time.  The groups mean nothing.  The only thing that matters is where they are told to go next week.

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