Anthony Alford has seemingly done nothing but hit this season. He connected for his first home run on Saturday, courtesy of a familiar face.
The Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect homered, doubled and drove in two runs to raise his average to .464 and help Double-A New Hampshire top Hartford, 8-5, at Dunkin' Donuts Park.
Alford blasted the long ball, his first at the Double-A level, on the first pitch he saw from Yard Goats reliever James Farris with two outs in the ninth inning. The outfielder said his knowledge of Farris' repertoire -- the two are good friends off the field -- helped key him in on what pitch to look for.
"We played together in the [Arizona] Fall League," Alford said. "I know what he has and I was sitting on a pitch. I got that pitch and tried not to miss it when I got it."
The 22-year-old was unsure initially if the ball would have enough to clear the fence in right field.
"It's a short porch to right, but at the same time, you have to really get it because you got to kind of hit it in the upper deck," he said. "I knew it was going to have the distance, I just wasn't sure if it was going to have the height to get into that second deck, but it did. I was pretty excited trotting the bases."
Video: New Hampshire's Alford hits first Double-A homer
Alford smacked an RBI double to right in the second and walked in the seventh while flying out in the first and fourth.
The 2012 third-round pick has hit safely in seven of his first eight games at the new level while drawing eight walks, stealing four bases and scoring nine runs. The fast start stands in contrast to a season ago, when Alford spent nearly all of April on the disabled list with a knee injury before batting .238 in 26 games in May.
"Just staying within myself and trying to stay patient and get good pitches to hit," the University of Mississippi product said. "Just trying to build off where I left off and continue to try and be a student of the game and get better every day."
Health will play a vital role for Alford in maintaining his productivity. He was limited to 92 games last year due to the knee injury and a concussion. Since he missed most of his first three seasons playing football at Ole Miss, MLB.com's No. 66 overall prospect has appeared in more than 100 games just once -- in 2015.
"My main goal is just to try and stay healthy and develop and try to get as many reps as I can," Alford said. "I'm not really worried about the stats because it's a long season. It's still early. I'm going to try and continue to build on it, but at the same time, remember what my main goal is: to have a good, productive season, stay healthy and stay as consistent as possible."
Raffy Lopez homered, tripled and drove in three runs for the Fisher Cats, who got two hits and an RBI from Blue Jays No. 30 prospect Ryan McBroom. Eighth-ranked prospect Jon Harris (1-0) got the start and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six over 5 1/3 innings for the win. Jose Fernandez struck out four over the final two frames for his second save, yielding a run on three hits and a walk.
Yard Goats starter Luis Niebla (0-2) surrendered six runs on seven hits and a pair of walks while fanning three over five innings. Dillon Thomas homered, tripled and drove in two in a losing effort.