Alford tops Blue Jays prospects to watch in spring

Pentecost, Greene, Tellez also on Toronto's radar

Alford tops Blue Jays prospects to watch in spring

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays dug deep into their Minor League system several times over the past few years to make trades, but the cupboard isn't entirely bare, and there are at least a few prospects who could become factors in the near future.

Former Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos used a lot of prospect capital in recent years to fast track his team's success. The moves -- at least the recent ones -- paid off in 2015 with an American League East title, but the toll those purchases will have in the coming years remains to be seen.

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In the days leading up to the official start of Spring Training on Feb. 21, MLB.com is taking a closer look at every aspect of the Blue Jays' roster. This edition examines "Prospects to Watch."

OF Anthony Alford: The 21-year-old is currently ranked Toronto's second-best prospect by MLBPipeline.com, but there's a good chance he'll be sitting alone at the top by the end of 2016. Alford had a delayed start to his professional career after splitting time between football and baseball, but he made up for lost time in 2015. During his first full season, he burst onto the scene and hit for a .302 average with an .825 OPS in 57 games for Class A Dunedin. Alford is a five-tool player, and he could move through the system relatively quickly with an eye on breaking through to the Majors in 2017.

Top Prospects: Pentecost, TOR

C Max Pentecost: The catcher is a first-round talent, but the start to his professional career has been disappointing. The 22-year-old suffered season-ending injuries in each of the previous two years, and he has appeared in just 25 official Minor League games since he was drafted in 2014. Pentecost needs to find a way to remain on the field to begin his development, because the Blue Jays have very little depth behind the plate, and eventually someone will have to ease Russell Martin's workload.

RHP Connor Greene: Anthopoulos was quick to defend his Minor League system after a series of trades were made last July, and Greene almost always seemed to be his first example. Greene wasn't a particularly noteworthy pitcher last spring, but he posted a 3.88 ERA at Class A Lansing and a 2.25 ERA at Class A Dunedin, which earned him a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire. Greene could be in position to make the jump to the big leagues at some point in 2016, and he seems to be the most polished arm Toronto has in its system.

Top Prospects: Tellez, TOR

1B Rowdy Tellez: The Blue Jays have developed a lot of pitchers over the past several years, but it has been a long time since the club had a legitimate power bat emerge through the Minors. Tellez may prove to be the exception, as he hit 14 home runs between Class A Lansing and Class A Dunedin in 2015. He'll eventually find his way to Double-A New Hampshire this season, but at 20 years old, the club needs to be patient with how quickly it moves him up through the Minors. The luxury of Toronto's current lineup is that it doesn't need Tellez, but it will in the future. His upside remains very enticing.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.