LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even before they selected him in the major league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, the Mariners had a long history with Mike Ford. They wanted him as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but lost out to the Yankees. Tyler Servais, the son of Mariners manager Scott Servais, also went to school with Ford at Princeton.
On Thursday, the Mariners pounced on a second chance to land him.
“Obviously (he’s) a guy who all he’s done is gone out offensively and controlled the zone with the bat from both sides as far as versus left and versus right,” Tom Allison, who oversees the Mariners amateur and professional scouting departments, said. “And one of the things that really attracted him to us, to use an old Pat Gillick line, is that a lot of times you scout the player and then you acquire the person.”
With Double-A Trenton this year, Ford led the Eastern League with a .410 on-base percentage. He won the Best Strike-Zone Judgment category in this year’s Best Tools survey as well.
“This was a nice combination and group effort to really go out and acquire a good-looking hitter,” Allison said.
Ford, who has played all but seven games of his minor league career at first base, represents an interesting fit for the Mariners. The team also acquired Ryon Healy, a first baseman himself, from the Athletics this offseason.
“Again, you start with the players first and you acquire the talent,” Allison said. “We’ll bring him and kind of let that play itself out during spring training. The offensive side does have some fits depending on how the bullpen shakes out and the rest of the position players.”
Ford also has an interesting highlight on his record that few, if any, past Rule 5 selections can boast: He hit four home runs in a minor league game. The 25-year-old Ford turned the trick in 2014, with low Class A Charleston during a season in which he hit a combined 13 longballs between Charleston and high Class A Tampa.
That power, plus the patience Ford has shown throughout his career, sealed the deal for the Mariners.
“One of the things that was always attractive was that, if you look at his stats, his college and then his early minor league stats, is that he knows what a strike looks like,” Allison said. “He’s very calm in the box.”