SEATTLE -- Harry Ford is already showing a maturity beyond his years, both on and off the field, after just one pro season in the Mariners’ farm system.
At the end of the 2022 season, the 19-year-old catcher, ranked as Seattle’s No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, received the organization’s Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award, given annually to the Minor Leaguer who best represents exemplary play and leadership skills at the ballpark and in the community. Davis serves as a special assignment instructor for the club and still has an imprint, especially on its Minor Leaguers.
And with the backdrop of Thanksgiving this week, Ford had some reflective perspective.
“It was amazing, awesome,” Ford said. “Just being around Alvin Davis this whole year, and getting to know the type of person and type of character that he has and his values and beliefs are -- to be compared to someone like that is an absolute honor.”
Ford spent every Saturday the past few weeks at the Mariners’ high-performance camp with his Minor League teammates spearheading local charity efforts near the club’s Spring Training facility in Arizona. Some days, it’s packing boxes at the nearby food bank. Others, they head out to baseball events to either watch, coach or play with children with special needs.
During the regular season at Low-A Modesto, Ford and his teammates welcomed the local Little League Challenger program, which supports individuals with physical and intellectual challenges.
“Just doing what we can to let people know that we care about them,” Ford said. “We want to see other people succeed other than ourselves, and it's been something that's been very important to the Mariners as a total group.”
Seattle’s first-round pick in 2021 with the No. 12 overall selection, Ford had one of the most productive seasons in the system in ‘22, slashing .274/.425/.438 (.863 OPS) with 11 homers, 23 doubles, four triples, 89 runs scored, 65 RBIs and 23 stolen bases across 104 games, all at Modesto. His .425 on-base percentage was the 10th highest among all full-season Minors players this season.
At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds and playing a premium position, he’s also been touted as the club’s most athletic prospect. There is much for the Mariners to dream on in what could be a rapid ascent to the Majors. But equally so, Ford is grounded in his efforts to give back.
“Playing on a team and knowing how much teamwork comes into everything, I think it's just kind of something that's instilled in all of us, from our childhood from growing up, that giving back to the community is important,” Ford said.
The Atlanta-area native credits his mother, Deborah, as his inspiration for embedding himself in the community. His family welcomed four foreign exchange students during his adolescence -- one each from Germany and Argentina and two from Brazil -- and he graduated from North Cobb High School (Kennesaw, Ga.), which has a 67% minority enrollment, according to Public School Review.
Such eclectic environments have allowed Ford to appreciate people from all walks of life -- which can be particularly important in baseball and which came to the forefront this season.
“The love of baseball was something that was a little different, the time that really brought us all together,” Ford said. “I've made friends that I know are going to last a lifetime and have really close bonds with these guys, which is just amazing. It’s a really amazing experience, day in and day out.”
Ford received the Mr. Mariner Award, but he’s quick to credit his teammates for their efforts, too, as well as Davis for leading the way and Dan Wilson, a special assistant in player development and member of the Mariners Hall of Fame, who leads many of these community efforts.
“During the season, I think our job really is to encourage guys to do that,” Wilson said. “Encourage as many guys as possible to get involved, and it usually works out really, really well.”
As the Mariners transition out of their rebuild and into a competitive window -- with many more talents, like Ford, on the way -- preparing them for the big leagues is more than just about what they’ll see on the field, but also how they can assist away from it.