Top prospect Alford arrives for dream debut with Blue Jays
— For the past few years, headlines about Anthony Alford have often been as devastating as they have been promising.
The 22-year-old outfielder, a Toronto Blue Jays third-round draft pick in 2012, has long been one of the organization’s top prospects. He is No. 3 right now, behind third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and pitcher Sean Reid-Foley.
But since Alford joined the Jays, he has experienced his fair share of heartache. A tornado ripped through rural Mississippi, destroying his grandmother’s house days before Christmas in 2014. Last season, he battled knee injuries, a severe neck strain and a concussion while with the high Class-A Dunedin Blue Jays. A few days after Christmas this past December, a fire destroyed his parents’ home in Columbia, Miss.
Alford credits those struggles with helping him grow as a player and a man. They also played a part in the warm welcome he received as he joined the Jays clubhouse Friday, called up from the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats to replace Darrell Ceciliani, who suffered a left shoulder strain on Thursday night and is expected to be on the disabled list for two to three weeks.
If anyone deserved a moment in the spotlight, it’s Alford.
His stay with Toronto could be short, though, as centre fielder Kevin Pillar will be eligible to return on Saturday after serving a two-game suspension for uttering a homophobic slur at Atlanta reliever Jason Motte in Wednesday’s game.