Archive for the ‘Anthony Alford’ Category

Southern Miss v Central Florida

Well here’s a bit of good news for Jays fans on the day, with the Royals set to host the A’s in the Wild Card play-in game, that they officially assume the title of longest playoff drought in baseball: the team is getting Anthony Alford full time.

From Ole Miss 24-7:

Ole Miss safety Anthony Alford has left the Ole Miss football team to focus on his professional baseball career.

The departure was announced by Ole Miss on Tuesday.

Alford, a sophomore, had played in every game for Ole Miss this season as a reserve safety and punt returner. He was credited with six tackles and two punt returns for eight yards.

The Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger adds that “Alford took snaps at quarterback during training camp and was a potential change-of-pace option, but did not see the field on offense.”

In a way it’s a shame for Alford, whose football adventure took him from being a two-sport star in high school, to quarterback as a freshman at Southern Miss, to a disastrous season there, the firing of the school’s head coach, a weapons charge (later dropped), then a transfer, and a redshirt year, which finally led him to being a member of Ole Miss’s defence and special teams unit. It says a lot about the belief that he has in his own abilities and his love for the gridiron, and I don’t know if it’s fair of us to say what’s the right or wrong decision for his life. But he certainly has done himself a favour, financially and in terms of his development in the sport where he has a genuine chance to develop into something really special at the highest level.

He “had first round ability,” tweeted Keith Law this afternoon, once the news had broken, and the only reason that he slid to the Jays in the third round in 2012 was that he had such a strong commitment to playing football that other teams were scared off. In order to get him into the organization, the Jays paid him $750,000 and structured their deal with him to allow him to put football first.

Baseball hasn’t even been a close second. Over the three seasons since he turned pro on the diamond he’s accumulated just 110 plate appearances — 60 this year between Bluefield and Lansing, and 50 over the previous two seasons for the club’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. That lost development time is going to be a tough hurdle for him to overcome, but obviously the Jays feel the talent is still there. In fact, back in early August, Alford told reporters that Alex Anthopoulos paid him a visit at the end of his baseball season this year, and “put some deals on the table and made it difficult for me.”

One of those deals was for five years, but surely would have required he put his focus to baseball full-time. Alford, who turned 20 in July, wasn’t ready for that then, but evidently has seen what an opportunity he has been passing up, and changed his tune from when he said at the time that “Football was my first love and even if I made $100 million dollars down the road in baseball, I’d still regret not giving football a shot.”

I wrote this then about the small sample we’d seen of his baseball talents this year:

In Bluefield this year, Alford made just 35 plate appearances, striking out in 37.1% of those, but posting a .343 on-base, despite just a .207 batting average, thanks to five walks he took during that span. Up a level at Lansing he was even better, in an even smaller sample of 25 plate appearances. For the Lugnuts he posted a 126 wRC+ as a 19-year-old in a league where the average hitter is 2.5 years older. He did so not by walking, but with eight hits in those 25 PA, including a double, a home run, and four stolen bases (with no caught stealings) to boot.

His biggest issue is, of course, reps — something Marc Hulet made clear when writing about him at FanGraphs this summer. Surely he’ll soon be bound for winter ball of some sort (I suspect the Arizona Fall League is too advanced to throw him into), with the object being to make up for as much lost development time as possible.

It’s still going to take a while before we know whether all that lost time can be made up for and Alford can capitalize on all the natural talent he possesses, but today, more than two years removed from when he was selected, the Jays are finally getting a real injection of talent into their system. It’s great news. He’ll be one to watch in 2015.


Better get away from Oxford Town…

Who says the Jays don’t have money?

Apparently they have at least a little money, because according to a report from Hugh Kellenberger of Jackson, Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger, they offered some of it to 2012 draft pick Anthony Alford.

The Toronto Blue Jays wanted Anthony Alford’s undivided attention.

Alford finished up his third professional baseball season last month, and the Ole Miss athlete said the last day came with a surprise.

“The (general manager) came down and tried to talk to me,” Alford said. “He put some deals on the table and made it difficult on me.”

It was a five-year deal, Alford admitted.

Alford is a player we’ve watched for two tumultuous years, as he’s gone from a $750K bonus baby who slipped for to the fourth round due to signability concerns and concerns about his commitment to football, to a struggling quarterback at Southern Mississippi, to a student involved in an arrest drama involving a weapon, to player who transferred to Ole Miss and sat out all of 2013, then switched to defensive back, where he’s slated to play for the Rebels this college football season.

Not a lot of baseball talk in there, but there still is enough promise in him that he remains very much on our radar — so much promise, evidently, that the Jays were willing to make a long-term commitment (though presumably not for a tonne of money).

Marc Hulet wrote about Alford this summer for FanGraphs.

In an organization that has struggled to develop home-grown hitters, Alford is an intriguing commodity. The club has already committed a $750,000 bonus, a third-round draft slot (He was arguably a fringe-first-round talent with signability concerns) and conceded at least three years of development to the Mississippi native. Because he’s not a top-of-the-line NFL prospect, Toronto may still be able to sway him to turn his attentions to the diamond on a full-time basis but it will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

At this rate, he’ll continue to fall further and further behind his same-aged peers and he also risks serious injury while playing football. Not only that, he has only two more years of development after this season before the Jays have to decide whether or not to offer him an all-import 40-man roster spot to protect him from the advances of other organizations in the Rule 5 draft.

Despite the negatives, Hulet generally came away impressed with Alford, particularly because of some nice-looking numbers — albeit in very small sample sizes — that speak to his natural abilities, given that he’s spent so much of the last two years away from the diamond.

In Bluefield this year, Alford made just 35 plate appearances, striking out in 37.1% of those, but posting a .343 on-base, despite just a .207 batting average, thanks to five walks he took during that span. Up a level at Lansing he was even better, in an even smaller sample of 25 plate appearances. For the Lugnuts he posted a 126 wRC+ as a 19-year-old in a league where the average hitter is 2.5 years older. He did so not by walking, but with eight hits in those 25 PA, including a double, a home run, and four stolen bases (with no caught stealings) to boot.

Yeah, the samples are tiny, but obviously there is talent there. Unfortunately, Alford simply isn’t ready to give up football yet.

“Football was my first love and even if I made $100 million dollars down the road in baseball, I’d still regret not giving football a shot,” he told Kellenberger.

Seems crazy to me, but he surely knows himself better than I do. The Clarion-Ledger piece also suggests he could even see some time back at quarterback this year, could factor into Ole Miss’s return game, and could see significant snaps in the defensive backfield. So… there’s something there, too. Maybe he’ll prove himself a better prospect than most have given him credit for.

Or maybe he’ll simply slip farther behind his peers on the baseball field, and realize too late which sport he really could have made an impact in. Hopefully it works out, both for him and for the Jays. Hopefully he stays healthy through the football season, too.

While they’re not exactly the circumstances that you want your prized two-sport prospect to choose baseball under, it looks like a significant hurdle has been cleared in Anthony Alford’s march towards potential baseball stardom.

This, of course, is not necessarily good news.

The Hattiesburg American reported today that the Jays prospect, and freshman quarterback at Southern Miss, has been released from his scholarship by the school– doing so at the player’s request. Clearly it’s a decision reached in the wake of Alford’s recent arrest at the school, and the fact that he stands charged with hindering prosecution and conspiracy to possess weapon on campus, though there are also genuine athletic reasons, too.

The Golden Eagles just finished skulking through an 0-12 season. They’ve fired the head football coach who recruited Alford and have now hired of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken to replace him, as well as the previous offensive philosophy.

The American‘s Stan Caldwell writes, in as informative piece on Alford’s situation as you’ll find, bluntly titled Alford should focus on baseball, that “even before the incident that landed him in jail, there were serious rumors that Alford was shopping his services, that he’d had enough of USM and was looking to transfer.”

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In the wake of last week’s news that Jays prospect, and Golden Eagles QB, Anthony Alford had been arrested on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, there were a lot of serious shit heads around here (far from anything close to the majority, I’ll grant) moaning about “character” and what they saw as the Jays’ possible abandonment of it in the 2012 draft. They’d come to this rash conclusion because first-rounder Marcus Stroman was suspended at the end of the season after he most-likely-unintentionally took a supplement with a banned ingredient in it, and because Alford had been arrested in this incident– one that these pea brains knew absolutely nothing about.

Nor did anyone else, frankly. Nor do we know a whole lot more right now. And that’s kind of the whole thing: it’s usually a good idea to have a handle on the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Of course, that means I can’t entirely exonerate Alford, either, but at this point I can at least pass along word that things appear to be looking up a little bit, as the Hattiesburg American is now reporting that the charges against him, originally for aggravated assault, have been lowered to “conspiracy to possess a firearm on campus and hindering prosecution.”

Um… hooray?

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If you’ve been periodically checking in on the University of Southern Mississippi’s football team over the course of the NCAA season, you already know what a catastrophe it’s been for the Golden Eagles, and to a lesser extent, freshman quarterback Anthony Alford, who the Jays selected in the third round of this year’s draft.

Or… well… that is, it was a lesser extent catastrophe for Alford until last night.

Yes, on the day that the school fired head coach Ellis Johnson one year into his tenure– following up a 12-2 2011 with a winless season in which Alford (not to mention the four other quarterbacks used) was hopelessly ineffective (according to reports), and in which his mother was arrested at a game following a verbal altercation with a fan berating his play– Alford somehow managed to make things worse.

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The Jays announced last night, via a team release, that they have signed 50th overall pick, Matt Smoral. Jim Callis of Baseball America reported that the deal is for $2-million, which is $1-million above the slot for pick number fifty, making him the fourth player to receive a bonus in excess of $1-million above slot, according to Callis.

It can hardly be viewed as a stretch, since we’d been hearing the $2-million figure on Smoral since the early reports that he’d already signed, and since Keith Law said of him on a Baseball Today podcast I quoted two weeks ago, that “he’s almost the perfect candidate to just go to school, to reestablish his value, and he comes out in three years and then he’s a top ten pick. That same guy, coming out of college, is in contention for the first overall pick.”

It does, however, take away from the limited funds left in the Jays’ bonus pool, with 22nd pick Marcus Stroman, and second-rounder Chase DeJong still to sign.

We know from Gregor Chisholm’s draft primer at that the club began with $8.831-million in their pool, and there is an additional $441,539 available due to a wrinkle in the CBA. Clubs will lose future draft picks if their total spending exceeds the bonus cap by 5%, but if they’re above the limit by between zero and 5%, they simply incur a tax. It’s a hefty tax– 75%– but probably won’t be enough to deter a club like the Jays from getting a deal done. The potential loss of a draft pick, on the other hand, almost certainly will. I’ve added the $441,539– one dollar less than 5% of their $8,830,800 pool– to their total, which makes for $9.272-million they can spend safely.

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DJ Davis

The Twitterverse is abuzz with word from on high that the Jays have signed several draft picks– all official-like.

Shi Davidi of the Rogers-owned Sportsnet appears to be the first to have passed along this news about the Rogers-owned Jays…


So… it would appear as though their draft strategy is kinda working. Hot damn!

I’m not sure it’s a sustainable year-to-year strategy, as more teams will surely look to emulate it– plus, it will sure be a lot tougher to retry without nearly as many supplemental round picks next year– but who the fuck needs to worry about that now? It sure looks like the Jays gamed the system as well as just about anyone, and that’s a little fucking outstanding.

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