No. 2 prospect Ford shows off 'unique' offensive skills

May 20th, 2024

is not your typical catcher. He has rare athleticism behind the plate, with plus speed and an advanced approach that gives him a high offensive ceiling.

MLB's No. 28 prospect put that well-rounded profile on display on Sunday with four hits -- the sixth such game of his pro career -- and a stolen base in Double-A Arkansas's 6-2 loss to Northwest Arkansas at Dickey-Stephens Park.

Ford was patient at the plate -- seeing 18 pitches across four plate appearances -- until he found what he liked in the bottom third of the zone. He lined three singles to left and drove an RBI triple (his second three-bagger in as many days) over the center fielder's head.

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The Mariners' second-ranked prospect has continued to provide pop atop the Travelers order, and he hit leadoff for the eighth time this season and sixth time in the past eight games. For some context, out of the 1,406 MLB starting lineups set in 2024, only six featured a catcher leading off (all Milwaukee's William Contreras).

"[He's] super unique," Arkansas manager Christian Colon said. "For his profile, you gotta go back all the way to the 1930s or something to look at a guy that can do things like that, his profile, what he does, how athletic he is, how he runs. It's pretty impressive. We're just happy he's in our organization."

Ford has been putting together an excellent campaign despite being just 21, more than three years younger than the average player on the circuit. He ranks fourth in the Texas League in on-base percentage (.415) and seventh in OPS (.873).

And he's piled up those numbers despite a rather slow start at Double-A. The Atlanta native didn't pick up a hit until his fifth game and slashed .109/.268/.174 through 12 contests. Since then, he's been a hitting machine, putting together a 12-game hitting streak and eight multihit contests in his past 23 games, good for a .353/.491/.588 slash line.

Not only is Ford making the adjustment from High-A to Double-A pitching -- considered to be the toughest leap in the Minors -- he also handled Major League pitching Sunday in the form of Kris Bubic. He singled off the Royals' rehabbing lefty in the first inning.

"It's one of the bigger jumps and he's handled it," Colon said. "The first couple of weeks were kind of sped up for him, but he settled down really nicely. Facing a big leaguer, he just put good at-bats together. He's the type of guy that doesn't really let that external stuff get to him, so I'm sure he treated it like another pitcher. ... It seems like the moment is not too big for him."

Ford's advanced approach is evident in his plate discipline numbers. He's walked 29 times (second-most in the Texas League) while striking out 32 times. Colon is impressed by Ford's ability to identify pitches early, which enables him to get into better counts and use the whole field.

He's also grown more disciplined on the bases. The backstop was caught stealing a combined 13 times in 63 attempts across his first three pro seasons, but after easily swiping second on Sunday, he is a perfect 9-for-9 to start the season.

"With Harry, I give him the green light," Colon said. "He knows he's a good baserunner, he knows when to go. And that's a testament to how he looks at baserunning. He cares about baserunning. He cares about taking the extra bases and he just picks a good time to go. I just encourage him to be aggressive, to always be thinking about the next base, trying to take any base they can, any extra 90. He's bought into it and he's done really well."