August 11, 2014
Playing professional baseball can be a tough task with all the responsibilities that athletes undertake on a daily basis. Now, imagine mixing that busy schedule with college classes and football. Sounds tough, right? Well that’s business as usual for Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Alford.
Juggling the two sports is nothing new to Alford who has spent most of his life handling the schedules and demands of being a multi-sport athlete.
“Playing both baseball and football has been good to me so far,” explained Alford. “Growing up I always had to juggle the schedules of playing two sports, so I’m used to it.”
The Mississippi native enjoys playing both sports so much he decided he wanted to pursue both as a future path. Alford chose to pursue football at the collegiate level and baseball at the professional level. His dream of playing professional baseball became a reality when the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Petal High School. The moment was special for both Alford and his family.
“Being drafted by the Blue Jays was a neat experience,” Alford said. “It is really nice hearing your name called on draft day. My family was really proud of me. Everybody around town was proud. It was a great experience.”
Being drafted came after being named Mr. Baseball in the state of Mississippi, a memorable moment for Alford who edged out fellow Blue Jays prospect D.J. Davis and Dodgers prospect Zachary Bird for the honor.
“Being named Mr. Baseball was special,” explained Alford. “There were some excellent candidates in the state of Mississippi. It was an honor to be named the number one player in the state with that kind of competition.”
Since beginning his professional baseball career, Alford has spent time in the Gulf Coast League, Appalachian League, and the Midwest League. Most recently with the Lansing Lugnuts, Alford batted .320 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs.
The speedy center-fielder was four-for-four on steal attempts and didn’t make an error in the five games he played roaming the Lugnuts’ outfield. Alford explains how he uses his speed to his advantage.
“On the base paths I understand when it’s the right time to use my speed and when it’s the right time to shut it down,” stated Alford. “I feel I have good baseball instincts. I just let my athletic ability take over.”
Another aspect Alford enjoyed was playing for Lugnuts’ hitting coach Ken Huckaby.“I’ve really enjoyed working with Huckaby. He’s really cool and feels like a mutual friend to me,” Alford explained. “Ken feels like a mutual friend, because the guy that I work with back home was roommates with Ken for five years. From a coaching standpoint I feel he did a great job with me and I feel blessed to have worked with him.”
After completing his most recent stint with the Lansing Lugnuts, Anthony Alford was reportedly approached by Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos in hopes of persuading the young athlete to commit to baseball on a full-time basis. Alford, however, politely declined and has returned to Ole Miss’ training camp for the collegiate season.
Alford is preparing for his sophomore football season at Ole Miss where he has now transitioned to safety in 2013, after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. Prior to joining Ole Miss, Alford spent a season at Southern Mississippi as a dual-threat quarterback in 2012.
“I’m really looking forward to helping my team any way I can at Ole Miss,” stated Alford. “I chose to transition to safety, because I felt it would be better for me in the future.”
“The transition started out a little slow, but it wasn’t hard,” he added. “The toughest part of the transition was learning the playbook.”
Much like baseball, Alford was named the best football player in the state of Mississippi, as he was named Mr. Football in both his junior and senior years of high school.
“Being named Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi was a huge honor,” stated Alford. “Football is a really big sport in Mississippi and to be named the number one player in the state meant a lot to me personally.”
Even though football takes up a lot of Alford’s time. He’s proud of the development he has made in baseball since being drafted in 2012. “I feel my development is going well,” stated Alford. “Every season I come here to play I feel I learn a little bit more than I knew before.”
“After every season I play with the organization, the Blue Jays coaching staff tells me what they want me to work on,” he added. “I take that information and work hard on it throughout the off-season, so my next season can be even better.”
Whether it’s one or two sports in Alford’s future, may he continue to develop and reach his future goals.