The Guardians are in agreement with outfielder Anthony Alford on a minor league deal, tweets GuardsInsider. The 27-year-old elected free agency over the weekend after being outrighted for the second time by the Pirates.
Alford was a second-round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2012. An excellent athlete with a rare combination of raw power and speed, he developed into a top prospect after posting strong numbers in the low minors. Baseball America slotted him among the game’s 100 best minor league talents entering both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, pegging him as the Jays’ most promising prospect during the first of those years.
Unfortunately, Alford has yet to produce the kind of numbers evaluators believed he’d be capable of. That’s in large part due to injuries, as he’s missed some time in each season since 2016 (including a two-week IL stint last month because of a right wrist sprain). A 2017 hamate fracture in his left hand and a fractured right elbow in 2020 have proven the most significant maladies, but Alford has also had IL stints for hamstring and back issues during his career.
When he has been on the field, the right-handed hitter has run into his share of strikeout issues. Alford has fanned in 37.9% of his 240 MLB plate appearances, resulting in a meager .209/.275/.368 line. He also has an alarming 29.2% strikeout percentage in parts of five seasons at Triple-A, where he’s a career .262/.349/.427 hitter. Between injuries and swing-and-miss concerns, he’s only played in 102 MLB games despite suiting up at the highest level in each of the past six years.
The Guardians have frequently been plagued by a lack of outfield depth in recent seasons. That hasn’t been a problem thus far in 2022, with Steven Kwan, Myles Straw and Josh Naylor off to excellent starts (and Oscar Mercado playing alright as well). Still, there’s little harm in taking a flier on a fairly young player who was once very highly-regarded and can cover all three outfield spots. Alford will head to Triple-A Columbus as non-roster depth.
Fantastic guy, radiates energy and is always a pleasure to watch. I wish him the best of luck in working his way towards a roster spot in Cleveland.
Good athlete, but his child bearing hips hold him back.
Hope that the next time he reaches the Show after tearing up AAA pitching that he continues hitting well. He did well in AAA for Pittsburgh but could not make much contact and struck out a ton when he was on the MLB roster. A warm body to add to the OF mix for Cleveland.
Great signing, should be their centre fielder and lead off hitter by next week
Tell me you don’t watch Cleveland baseball without actually telling me you don’t watch Cleveland baseball
This is actually a very weird move by the Guardians, who have for thr last 6 years emphasized both with their actions and words that they want to focus on high contact hitters. Which is starting to pay off, as several of their young prospects are that profile and are playing quite well (Kwan, Palacios, Miller, Gimenez). They’ve made it almost a point to *not* promote guys who don’t do that like Bobby Bradley (who the fanbase wanted to see promoted for years until he did get promoted), Daniel Johnson, Oscar Gonzalez, and Will Benson. Signing a strikeout machine doesn’t really seem to fit their needs especially with some of the depth they have on hand.
My guess right now is that they do not consider Alford a MLB option and that this is purely for the benefit of the Columbus Clippers. They don’t own the Clippers and the Clippers have a more detached relationship to them compared to other affiliates Akron and Lake County. The Clippers were previously a Yankees affiliate and the owner has made clear that he wants the Clips to be a competitive team.
The Guardians do not have a good track record of fixing swing-and-miss hitters. I’m guessing that the “swing for the fences “ mentality so prevalent in today’s game is partly to blame. They have done much better advancing players who come in with better bat-to-ball skills. Still, I think this is a low risk signing that puts a major league experienced player in the depth chart, without really blocking a prospect.
Bobby Bradley says hello
@Rsox Bradley is kind of proof of this. They held back on promoting him several times, even opting to keep Jake Bauers going into last year. They also cut him loose this year after almost not giving him a chance.
Bradley only ever got promoted because they had pretty much no other options. It was either Bobby Bradley or playing Yu Chang more.
Chances are he isn’t anything more than a 6th or 7th outfield option. Just a warm body to have in the event they have multiple injuries to their OF.
He probably will do well with the Clippers. He did well with Indy when he was sent there by the Pirates.
as a life-long Cleveland fan, I am beyond frustrated with the way they mishandled DJ. Dude graded out at an 80 with his arm, and they gave him like 12 AB’s in 2020 and 77 last season, but they had no qualms sending out Mercado and Zimmer while they were struggling. And I have been a Zimmer fan for years!
I railed at length myself about “Jet” not getting a proper shot. But it’s beginning to look like the “guys-in-the-know” knew all along he wasn’t going to be a major league caliber hitter. Shame. I always wanted to see that arm do its thang.
I really was rooting for Daniel Johnson for the last couple of years. But every time Jet finally got a shot in the majors… whiff machine. Not as bad as Bradley, but given that he never really hit for any power nor did he draw a ton of walks… just didn’t seem to have the ingredients to be a useful hitter. Best you really could have hoped for at that point was a defense-first backup outfielder. But they had plenty of those types with Zimmer, Mercado, and others.
Minor League Roster filler.
Maybe they just want somebody whose “swing for the fences” approach has failed in the big leagues. As an example to Benson, D.J. & OGonz. The coaches haven’t been able to get through. If just one of those guys realizes it’s not going to work then maybe they have a sliver of a chance of successfully adapting.
He didn’t make it 24 hours.
Why wouldn’t we pick up someone who couldnt even stick with the Pirates lol no offense to Tony
For cheap skate owner of the Guardians this a major signing.