The Seattle Mariners have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. They have drafted well, as well as developed players to grow their skill sets. One of these players that they drafted is Harry Ford, who was selected in last year’s draft with the 12th pick. He was drafted as a high school catcher, which is an interesting selection since this was Jerry Dipoto’s first high schooler drafted in the first round.
Harry Ford is one of the most athletic catchers to be drafted in a long time. He does not look like your prototypical catcher. He is only 5’11” and weighs 200 pounds, and is only 18 years old. He is short and strong, but also very athletic. He has 60 grade speed, which is very hard to find in a catcher. He has all 5 tools according to many scouts. He can hit, hit for power, run well, play good defense behind the plate, and he has a strong throwing arm.
Harry Ford could be a very good catcher someday if he sticks at the position. An athletic catcher who can be a positive contributor on offense is incredibly valuable. He is so young that he has so much development in front of him, he could turn into anything. He should be able to impact the Mariners someday with his offensive skill set alone. His above-average bat speed should be able to help him continue to develop his bat to hit minor league pitching.
Here is what Prospects Live said about Harry Ford before the 2021 Draft
"It’s rather remarkable how much bat speed Ford generates with an incredibly quiet load considering the low placement of his hands in his pre-swing setup. His lack of a bat wrap is noticeable, but it’s akin to Edwin Encarnacion. Behind the plate, Ford is quick out of his crouch, and moves with smooth quick twitch motions. Ford is a fringy hitter with big, big power. Projects a 45 hitter with potential for 60 power at the next level.Might not be a catcher in big league ball as his athleticism and plus speed may be too good not to move to an outfield spot or third base long-term. That said, some scouts have said if you’ve got that kind of talent and athleticism behind the plate, why move him? He’s got a reasonable shot of being the rare prep catcher selected in the first round."
The team at Prospects Live is lower on Ford’s hit tool, but they only have it half a grade lower so it is not so far off other publications. Prospects Live is also higher on his power, since it is a full grade higher than MLB.com. If he can be a slightly below-average hitter with 60 power and a good defender at catcher, then that is a big-time player for the Mariners down the road. The Mariners did like him enough to take him in the first round, even as a prep catcher.
Even though Harry Ford could turn into a very dependable catcher, he could move off the position. If the Mariners are seeing better offensive numbers and his bat is far ahead of his defense, they could move him to second base or center field. He has the potential to be an up the middle player at any of those positions. If the Mariners are looking thin in center field or second base in three or four years, then they could transition Ford there to get him to the big leagues sooner.
The only reason that Ford would move off of catcher for any reason besides him just struggling defensively, is that they could want to get his bat up to the majors sooner. If he projected as an above-average second baseman offensively, and only needed two years potentially to learn how to play the position in the minors, then the organization could move him to second base full time. That could present an interesting option if that is how he develops.
The most fun scenario would be that Harry Ford is a center fielder, a second baseman, and a catcher all at once. If he had the ability to play all of those positions, then he could be a truly unique super-utility player. This situation is very unlikely since if Ford can stick at catcher, he will almost certainly stay there. There is the slight possibility that he can have the incredible versatility to play all three of those spots though, which would be fun to watch.
In Ford’s first taste of minor league ball, he looked very good in 19 games in rookie ball. He slashed .291/.400/.582. That is a very good slash line from the 18-year-old. He also had 10 extra-base hits, three homers, and seven doubles, but also had three stolen bases. On top of all that he almost walked as much as he struck out. He looked very good in his first taste of minor league action and is a name to watch next year as he could reach Modesto.
The Mariners have a very good hitting and catching prospect in Harry Ford, and they have some different ways that they could deploy him in the future. For now, fans can just dream of Ford having a strong impact on the Mariners lineup in the future. If Ford is the catcher in five years and is the impact bat many say he can have, then that is a big-time player the Mariners drafted at 12th overall in the draft last year. He is a fun player for the Mariners minor leagues going forward.