Prospect roundup: Ford off to hot start at High-A

April 9th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- It’s really going to be this easy for Harry Ford, isn’t it?

OK, that’s a big stretch and a short-sighted assessment, but it’s hard not to marvel at the immediate impact that the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect had in the regular-season opener Friday for High-A Everett. Batting second, Ford went 3-for-5 with three singles, including two that drove in a run. The headliner was his RBI knock that tied the game in the 10th inning and helped lead to an eventual 4-3 walk-off win an inning later.

What stood out most was that Ford sprayed the ball all over. He pulled his first hit hard into left field, blooped his second to right-center and chopped the third up the middle. The showing underscored the Mariners’ belief in his ability to hit to all fields, which hinges heavily on pitch selection. Ford also threw out a runner attempting to steal second base when the game was tied in the seventh.

“Harry’s athleticism was on full display, and you saw a little bit of everything he can do,” Mariners director of player development Justin Toole said.

Given Ford's impressive showing for Team Great Britain at last month’s World Baseball Classic and the impression he left on Seattle’s big leaguers in Spring Training, it’s easy to forget that his presence at Everett represents a promotion. Ford spent all of last season at Low-A Modesto, where he hit .274/.425/.438 (.863 OPS) with 11 homers and 65 RBIs. He posted a 132 wRC+ (league average is 100).

Moreover, Ford -- who is MLB Pipeline’s No. 46 overall prospect -- had a far more advanced approach than most of his peers.

“There’s a lot to like with him both as a player and as a person,” Toole said, “and it was good to see all the work he’s been putting in show up on Opening Night. Really happy for him to get off to that kind of start.”

Ford is only 20 years old, and he will assuredly experience hiccups on his path to The Show, just as he did in the first two months last year, when he hit .209/.370/.291 (.661 OPS) before slashing .300/.446/.496 (.942 OPS) the rest of the way. It’s just one game, but Friday’s debut for a new affiliate was another promising sign for a player who could headline the next wave of young talent in Seattle.

Triple-A Tacoma
The Rainiers have been raking since their regular-season opener last Saturday, scoring 68 runs in their first eight games, easily the highest figure among the 30 Triple-A teams.

Top 30 prospects on the Rainiers’ roster include righty Taylor Dollard (No. 9) and outfielders Cade Marlowe (No. 16) and Zack DeLoach (No. 26).

Double-A Arkansas
Is there a more loaded pitching staff in the Minors than the Travelers’? There certainly isn’t  in Double-A. Bryce Miller showed this spring that he’s on the MLB doorstep, and Emerson Hancock, Bryan Woo and Prelander Berroa might not be far behind.

Miller stumbled in his debut, surrendering four runs on seven hits, including a homer, over 4 1/3 innings. He also struck out four. Hancock threw five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and just three hits allowed on Saturday.

Top 30 prospects on the Travelers’ roster include righties Miller (No. 2, MLB Pipeline’s No. 95 overall), Hancock (No. 4), Woo (No. 6), Berroa (No. 14) and Isaiah Campbell (No. 17), first baseman Robert Perez Jr. (No. 21), and righties Travis Kuhn (No. 22) and Juan Then (No. 23)

High-A Everett
Aside from Ford, Top 30 prospects on the AquaSox's roster include third baseman Tyler Locklear (No. 10), outfielder Jonatan Clase (No. 12), shortstop Axel Sanchez (No. 15) and outfielder Alberto Rodriguez (No. 27).

Low-A Modesto
Last year’s first-round pick Cole Young (No. 3) is the group’s headliner as he looks to build on a solid cup of coffee last September, when he hit .385/.422/.538 (.960 OPS) in 10 games. So far, he’s 4-for-13 with three strikeouts and a bases-clearing triple in the opener.

Beyond Young, Top 30 prospects on the Nuts’ roster include outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez (No. 7), righties Michael Morales (No. 20) and Tyler Gough (No. 24) and shortstop Josh Hood (No. 29).