Anthony Alford's time in big league camp has come to an end, but he seems to have left quite the impression with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
Gibbons had nothing but praise for the promising outfielder -- and Blue Jays' No. 3 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- shortly after he was sent to Minor League Spring Training on Saturday morning. Alford was limited to six hits in 32 at-bats this spring, but the way Gibbons sees it, those numbers only tell part of the story.
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"I don't think I've ever seen as much improvement in a year, in a young kid, as I have in him," Gibbons said of the former Ole Miss quarterback. "I'll be honest, I had my doubts. It's tough for football players that go strictly to baseball. He always had a great powerful swing, but last year he didn't make the adjustments in Spring Training.
"This year, he sees the ball better. He was able to foul off breaking balls, stay alive. I'll tell you what, he has hit as many rockets down here as anybody in camp. He was really impressive. I thought he played the outfield very well. He's got a better arm than I thought he had. In a year's time, I've seen as much improvement as any kid I've ever seen."
Infielder Lourdes Gurriel, outfielder Harold Ramirez and shortstop Richard Urena were among the other prospects returned to Minor League camp. The cuts were hardly surprising as all were scheduled to begin the year in the Minors, and this will give each of them more of an opportunity to get ready for the start of the season.
"That's four really good ones," Gibbons said. "Young guys that gave us a tremendous impression. Reese McGuire, same thing. The young kids really held their own and did a nice job."
On the mend
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis ran the bases on Friday as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. According to the club, Travis felt fine the following morning and was enjoying a previously scheduled day off from the field.
Travis has two weeks to get ready for Opening Day, but there is still a chance he might begin the year on the 15-day disabled list. If Travis misses time, Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins are expected to split time at second base.
"He's feeling good," Gibbon said of Travis. "Hopefully, that lasts. We're a couple of weeks away. We'll see where he's at. The next few days will be a good gauge of that, I would guess."