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.