Harry Ford's Unique Skill Set Excites Mariners
Harry Ford’s impressive combination of hitting prowess, arm strength, plus speed and natural athleticism prompted the Mariners to draft him out of high school with their 2021 first-round pick.
Since then, he’s continued to give them plenty of reason for excitement.
As a 19-year-old last season at Low-A Modesto, the multi-skilled catcher put his vast tool set on full display.
“Every time you went and saw him play, you would leave with something,” Mariners assistant general manager Andy McKay said.
“The guy can really throw. He can really run. He’s got power to all fields . . . Whether he got no hits or three hits, you saw something that made you realize this guy’s a big leaguer.”
Ford, who wowed the Mariners during a private predraft batting practice, got off to a slow start last season while battling shoulder tightness and a sprained ankle. Once healthy, he found his stride.
Ford slashed .274/.425/.439 in 104 games, including .300/.446/.496 over his final 75 games. He racked up 11 home runs and 23 stolen bases.
Ford showed strong plate discipline throughout, even during his early slump. He posted the California League’s third-best walk rate at 17.6%.
“That’s obviously an advanced skill that he’s bringing to the ballpark at a very early age,” McKay said.
Ford has a level of speed and athleticism that’s rare for a catcher. It has led some to speculate he might eventually change positions.
McKay dispelled that notion.
“We’ve tried to put that to rest quickly,” McKay said. “We think you’ve got to be a really athletic guy to be a catcher. We have no plans to move him. That athleticism plays up in everything that he’s doing back there . . . His ability to block and receive and throw is just different than other people.”
Ford earned a spring training invite and will play for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic after starring in the WBC qualifiers last September.
“He’s one of those guys who just was completely as advertised from our scouting group,” McKay said. “. . . We think the sky is the limit.”
— During a January radio appearance, Mariners general manager Justin Hollander said that righthanders Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock, Taylor Dollard and Bryan Woo have a chance to reach the majors this season.
“They’re pretty close,” Hollander said. “I think you could see them all at some point this year, depending on their development and our needs. They’re all a little bit different, but I think they have a chance to really make an impact on this team.”
— Outfielder Alberto Rodriguez cleared waivers after being designated for assignment in January. The 22-year-old lefthanded slugger had a breakout 2021 with Low-A Modesto, which earned him a 40-man roster spot after the season for Rule 5 draft protection. His performance dipped last year at High-A Everett, where he hit .261/.336/.396 in 119 games.