Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Role for New Outfielder Anthony Alford


The Pittsburgh Pirates made a transaction to bring in a former top 100 prospect.  How can the outfielder find a role in Pittsburgh?

When the Toronto Blue Jays placed Anthony Alford on waivers, many thought the Pittsburgh Pirates could look to pick him up.  After all, Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders were part of the Front Office in Toronto while Alford ascended prospect boards.  Sure enough, Alford made it to the Bucs on waivers and the team claimed him.

Alford is an interesting prospect.  He was a big-time recruit in both baseball and football out of high school and actually played both sports at the college level.  He ended up being the Blue Jays third-round pick in 2012.  The toolsy outfielder was considered really projectable because of his athleticism and power potential.  Alford has not exactly figured it out at the plate.  He has a career strikeout rate of 25 percent in the minor leagues and a 38 percent rate in his limited major league time.

So what can he bring to the Pittsburgh Pirates if he is going to be below average offensively?  I say below average because with his speed and power, he could figure somethings out, but with the swing and miss issues it does not seem overly likely.  The good thing for Alford is his athleticism will always be tantalizing to big-league teams.

Alford’s athleticism very well could carve out a bit of a role for him on this team down the stretch.  Alford has a 70 grade for speed and has stolen over 100 bases in his minor league career.  Alford could be a threat on the base paths.

Really where that speed will play is in PNC Park’s spacious outfield.  Jarrod Dyson did not appear in either game yesterday, and with the deadline coming up there is a good chance the team moves on from him in some capacity.  It very well could be that the Pittsburgh Pirates are getting their fourth outfield replacement in Alford.

His speed definitely will allow him to play any of the three outfield positions, most importantly left field, a spot that can be tough to cover at PNC.  Alford was also a quarterback in college and with that has a plus arm in the outfield, although he is very much arm strength over accuracy. He also rates as a 55 defender on FanGraphs, which gives him a slightly above average grade.

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It will be interesting to see if/when the team moves on from Dyson.  The team claiming Alford definitely could provide reason too.   So while Alford may never reach that lofty ceiling, he could become this team’s future fourth outfielder.  If nothing else, he is worth a look at this point in the year.