Top prospect Al­ford ar­rives for dream de­but with Blue Jays

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - LAURA ARM­STRONG BAL­TI­MORE Toronto Star

— 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.

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