Projecting Harry Ford's MLB Debut and Career Trajectory

Could Harry Ford become the third catcher ever to post a 20 HR/20 SB season in the MLB? As an elite athlete, Harry has the potential to impact the game from both of the ball, in addition to his leadership qualities the Mariners' organization feels strongly about.
Harry Ford, San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners
Harry Ford, San Francisco Giants v Seattle Mariners / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Ford just turned 21 years old in February, and he's coming off of a solid campaign with an 18.3% BB rate. While it's encouraging to see the advanced approach from a young hitter, you'd also like to see Harry take as many swings as possible to get the reps. The power is there, with 55-grade raw power tool, but he has yet to fully tap into that power during games.

He hit 15 home runs and 24 doubles last season for the Aquasox, so it'll be interesting to see how Ford's power translates in Arkansas at the AA level. At the MLB level, I think it's reasonable to expect 15-20 home runs from Ford as he enters his mid twenties, potentially peaking in the 25 HR range. It's unlikely he'll have quite as much power as Cal, but then again he has the most homers by any catcher in baseball the last few seasons.

Harry's hit tool has some room to grow, with Fangraphs giving him a 20 grade going into 2024. If he were to come up to the big leagues right now, he'd likely struggle to hit .200. He knows the strike zone very well, which could help him to build his hit tool in the upper minor league levels over the next couple of seasons.

He hit .274 for the Modesto Nuts in 2022, before dropping to .257 last year in Everett. The next couple of years in AA and AAA will be telling of his hitting potential, but for now, I project Ford to hit somewhere in the range of .230-.240. Even if his catching ability was ready for the big leagues, he'd likely be held back from the hit tool at this point. There's no rush anyway since the Mariners have an All-Star switch-hitting catcher behind the dish.

The defense behind the plate has improved these last few seasons, and Ford has a chance to be an above-average catcher because he's such a good athlete. He also has a plus arm, which could play up even more if he improves his pop time. The Mariners feel Harry could play second base or even center field potentially down the line. They see him as a five-tool player, in the making, even if it playing catcher doesn't work out.

It also creates more paths to the Major Leagues, particularly with an All Star in front of him on the Mariners' depth chart. Since Cal is under team control for the next four years, it's difficult to imagine anyone else catching up until he's traded for prospects in 2027 or he hits free agency and gets his pay day. My prediction is Harry stays at catcher and is traded in the deadline deal to get a power bat at the trade deadline.

Though I think Ford will be traded before he plays every day for the Mariners, I also do expect him to be a productive big-league ball player. He has a shot at becoming the third 20-20 catcher in the MLB after J.T. Realmuto and Pudge Rodriguez, if he stays behind the dish. He's stolen 20+ bags in each of his two pro seasons, so it's probably not a stretch that Harry can swipe 20-25 a year early on. I'd like to see him tap into 25 HR power, but it's possible he's got more line drive power with high contact and walk rates.

Either way, I think he has the ability to make a few All-Star teams and get a nice payday if he reaches his potential. The biggest obstacle is probably his hit tool, as it is with many young talented athletic players. The graveyard of quad A players is filled with guys who had power and speed but struggled to hit .200 in the show.