M's top prospects pegged for big spring training roles

Cole Young and Harry Ford are gearing up for what looks like a huge Catcus League camp.

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The Mariners released their initial non-roster invite list for spring training yesterday. 33 NRI designated players will join those on the 40-man roster to make a jam-packed clubhouse in Peoria. A few intriguing names are on the NRI list, ranging from bounce-back candidates in reliever Ty Buttrey and Ranger's former top prospect Nick Solak. While it's exciting to see the depth in camp, which kicks off later this month, most eyes will be on the youngsters, specifically infielder Cole Young and catcher Harry Ford. Both players are on numerous top 100 lists and at the top of the Mariner's prospect rankings.

MLB.com reporter Daniel Kramer fanned the flames ahead of an exciting camp for the two high-upside prospects. Kramer dropped some interesting nuggets late last night on X, stating that the Mariners plan to give Young plenty of run this spring, despite his estimated major league debut being a few years away. He also mentioned Ford moving around the diamond and getting time in the infield. While Young's advanced approach and handle on the organizational philosophy of dominating the zone makes the extended playing time not much of a surprise, moving the uber-athletic Ford out from behind the plate is shocking.

Much of the value Ford offers defensively is his athleticism and arm strength from a premium position, much like Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. However, seeing the organization explore opportunities to preserve the 20-year-old's plus-plus speed by shelving the catching gear is a welcomed surprise. One thing to consider is the log jam of middle infielders in the system (Brock Rodden, Colt Emerson, Michael Arroyo, Young), which could push Ford who has an absolute cannon, to the hot corner, where he would immediately become the best third baseman in the system.

With a reimagined 40-man roster that includes newcomers Gregory Santos, Jorge Polanco, Luke Raley, and Mitch Garver, plus a good mix of veterans and prospects on the NRI list, it is time to keep an eye on Young and Ford as they look to take the next step in their development. The future is bright down on the farm and will be even brighter this spring in Peoria, no matter where Ford lands on the diamond.