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Harry Ford Blows Mariners Brass Away



Mariners scouting director Scott Hunter was probably more anxious than the player he flew more than 2,000 miles from Seattle to Atlanta to evaluate.

He wanted to check out Harry Ford, the 18-year-old catcher from Kennesaw, Ga., one last time, and make sure he was healthy just a week before the 2021 draft.

What Hunter didn’t know until shortly beforehand was that Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and assistant GM Justin Hollander would meet them there—which certainly doesn’t happen often.

“You’re always a little nervous about a high school kid taking batting practice for a general manager,” Hunter said. “It was probably the best-kept secret in baseball.”

Ford blew the Mariners' brass away. Hunter said that experience solidified for them that Ford would be the top high school prospect on their board and the player they’d eventually pick 12th overall out of North Cobb High.

“He went to the cage and did his routine, and the first two rounds of BP he slaps a donut on his bat and starts taking batting practice like some of the big leaguers do in their routines,” Hunter said.

“I am sitting there watching and going, ‘Is this kid for real right now? He’s hitting line drives to right field with a donut on his bat while the GM is there.’

“And then he took it off and he starts spraying balls around and we walked out going, ‘This kid has a maturity level that is beyond his years, and he just took a major league batting practice in front of a major league GM.' ”

But it was the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Ford's explosiveness that had the Mariners flying across the country in the first place. They want to work him out at catcher, but Hunter believes Ford's speed, which Dipoto said grades at a 65 right now on the 20-80 scale, could play in center field. He also wonders if Ford could transition to second base.

“We’re going to send him out as a catcher, but he has the tool set of a true five-tool player,” Hunter said.

MARINADE

— The Mariners had selected college prospects with their first pick in each of the five drafts under GM Jerry Dipoto, including righthanders in each of the past three. So selecting high school prospects in each of the first three rounds in the 2021 draft—catcher Harry Ford from Georgia, shortstop Edwin Arroyo from Florida and righthander Michael Morales of Pennsylvania—was a curveball many in the industry didn’t foresee.

“With an organization and prospect pipeline that’s starting to grow, we had an opportunity to really get aggressive and look bigger picture here and create another wave at the bottom of our organization to kind of push the rear of those guys that are maturing into the big leagues as we speak,” Mariners scouting director Scott Hunter said.

— The Mariners are carefully handling the 2021 seasons of two of their dynamic pitching prospects—righthanders George Kirby and Emerson Hancock. Both were shut down for much of July with varying degrees of arm and shoulder fatigue to manage their workloads. Neither had any structural issues.

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