Alford finds one sport is enough
• Anthony Alf ord may have given up football, but not the football mentality.
In the fall of 2014, Alford made his decision between football and baseball, turning his back on Ole Miss, where he was a quarterback, deciding to devote his athletic attention to baseball.
The Jays’ t hird- round draft pick in 2012 had dabbled at baseball in his first two years but in 2015, he attacked the game and the challenge of learning how to play centre field with a football intensity.
He destroyed two levels of pitching, dividing his time between low Class A Lansing and high Class A Dunedin almost equally. At Lansing, he played 50 games and had an .812 OPS. In 57 games at Dunedin, he outdid himself with an .825 OPS. Combined, he had 36 extra- base hits, including four homers, in 107 games, stole 27 bases and had 67 walks.
At 6- foot-1, 205 pounds, he is powerfully built and will undoubtedly mature into a big- time masher.
“I s aw him in s pring t raining l ast year,” said manager John Gibbons. “Our guys say he’s made more strides in one season than anybody they’ve ever seen.
“He’s got a ton of talent and once they started t hrowing him out t here every day, it started happening. He was f eeling his way around here last spring. Baseball is a tough game to play. but he’s started moving in the right direction. He’s viewed as our top prospect and I can see why.”
Alford may s t ar t t he season at either Class A Dunedin or Class AA New Hampshire. It is not a ridiculous thought that he could be back at spring training in 2017 competing for a major- league roster spot.
Alford credits the decision to leave football behind as a key to his spike in baseball success.
“I ’ m more relaxed because I just have to focus on one thing as opposed to focusing on football and baseball at the same time,” he said. “I get to r eally just work on my craft and strengthen the things that are seen as my weaknesses. It’s a l ot easier when you’re j ust playing one sport.
“Everything I’m l earning is not so much physical or mechanical. It’s mostly mental. It’s important to pick the older guys’ brains and find out how they prepare for workouts. Every small thing that you can pick up can make a difference.”
OUR GUYS SAY HE’S MADE MORE STRIDES IN ONE SEASON THAN ANYBODY.