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Grapefruit Notes: The good and bad of Anthony Alford, the growing legend of Alejandro Kirk, and more!

I know, I know, it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to Grapefruit League games as actual baseball games, but having baseball on TV brings a warm and fuzzy feeling that winter is finally over. So let’s lean into the early spring training hype and enjoy the fact baseball is back.

Things worth mentioning…

  • The Jays kicked off 2020 with a 2-1 win over the Yankees and they then followed it up on Sunday with a 5-5 tie against Josh Donaldson and the Minnesota Twins. A side note, seeing Donaldson as a member of the Twins will probably look really weird for quite some time.
  • We got to see quite a few interesting pitchers right off the hop, with Trent Thornton getting the start against the Yankees and bullpen hopefuls Jordan Romano, A.J. Cole, and Brian Moran coming out in relief. Thornton seems to have the inside track to the team’s fifth starter gig, given the fact he led the Jays in starts last season, but nothing is certain. He opened up his spring training with two shutout innings, surrendering just one walk. After the game, a noticeably bulked-up Thornton said that he spent the off-season adding muscle and honing his changeup, which he considered a weakness in the past.
  • After Thornton’s two innings, Sam Gaviglio, Jordan Romano, A.J. Cole, Brian Moran, Philippe Aumont, and Yensy Diaz all tossed scoreless frames while Jake Petricka allowed a run in the ninth on the way to the win. Save for Sammy G, all of those guys have uphill battles to crack the roster. Romano is an interesting name to follow. After having his 2019 season cut short due to injury, Romano was flashing 98 mph on the gun during his inning of relief against the Yankees. If he can consistently throw gas and hit the strike zone, he’ll be in a good spot to earn a spot on the team.
  • On Sunday, the Jays started things off with Anthony Kay, who got tagged for a couple of earned runs over two innings of work, though he did show some positive flashes, picking up a couple of strikeouts.

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  • After Kay, Jacob Waguespack threw a scoreless frame, Thomas Pannone got tagged for a run on three hits, Sean Reid-Foley allowed an unearned run, Justin Miller had a clean inning, and Thomas Hatch, who was rocking No. 69, had a nice showing, picking up two strikeouts in his inning of work.

  • On the offensive side of things, Anthony Alford stole the show in Saturday’s game by stealing three bases and effectively creating a run all on his own in the seventh inning. It was an exciting glimpse of what Alford could offer the team if he does manage to break camp in what’ll be a make-or-break camp for him. Charlie Montoyo spoke after the game about Alford and what his skill set could offer… “I was telling (bench coach) Dave Hudgens, if his approach is good at the plate, he could be a great weapon for us,” said Montoyo. “He can pinch-run. He can play centre. He’s got speed. That was a good example of what we think he can do. He’s got the tools to be that guy, so we’re hoping he becomes that and he plays like he did (Saturday). That was great to see. He’ll be a great weapon for us, for sure. That’s a fact.” It’s obviously not automatic that Alford makes the team, but he would probably have to have a pretty horrid showing in spring training in order for the Jays to expose him to waivers. Though, dropping a routine flyball and ging 0-for-3 in the game against the Twins on Sunday isn’t going to help.

  • Another name that stole the show this weekend was catching prospect Alejandro Kirk, who’s attending his first-ever big-league camp. The Blue Jays’ new Large Adult Son has big-time fan favourite energy. Kirk is a prospect who could really rocket up the depth chart this year. He features an elite glove behind the plate and arguably the best eye of any batter in the system. Blue Jays fans were treated to some of Kirk’s excellent defensive work when he ended Sunday’s game against the Twins with a rocket throw to nab a runner at third base. He also endeared himself with his wheels on the bases.

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  • Finally, another player with an important camp ahead of them, Rowdy Tellez, had a solid debut. Tellez went 2-for-3 with a couple of runs batted in on Sunday’s game against the Twins, helping the Jays rally from 4-0 down. I think the most difficult thing for Tellez is the fact he has options and lacks positional versatility. But if he hits, it’ll be hard not to bring him north.