Mariners draft athletic Georgia HS C/OF Harry Ford with 1st-round pick

Jul 11, 2021, 5:41 PM | Updated: 8:09 pm

For the first time since 2014, the Mariners have a high school player with their first-round pick in the MLB Draft, using the 12th overall pick on Harry Ford, who hails from North Cobb High School in Georgia.

Seattle Mariners 2021 MLB Draft Tracker

Since general manager Jerry Dipoto joined the Mariners in late 2015, he and his front office have shied away from prep players with their first picks, selecting only two high schoolers – Joe Rizzo in 2016 and Sam Carlson in 2017 – in the first three rounds since 2016. Ford clearly was too enticing to pass up at 12th overall, though.

Ford played catcher in high school, but the Mariners’ press release has him listed as both a catcher and an outfielder. That makes some sense as Ford’s speed and overall athleticism are what stand out when looking at him as a prospect.

Per MLB Pipeline, which ranked Ford as the 13th-best prospect in this class, Ford has earned a 60 grade (20-80 scale with 50 being average) for his speed, and 55 grades for his arm and fielding. Ford has reportedly earned a lot of praise for his work behind the plate, but his speed and overall athleticism could allow him to move to the outfield if needed.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Ford is extremely strong to go along with that speed and athleticism, and he has a lot of potential and room to grow at the plate. He currently has earned 50 grades for his hit tool and power, but he possesses some of the best bat speed in the draft, per MLB Pipeline, though the site notes he has a tendency to try and do too much with the bat.

With some fine tuning at the minor league level, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both those tools catch up to his speed, glove and arm and give him a chance to be a legit five-tool prospect, regardless of where he winds up in terms of his defensive home.

‘He has the toolset of a five-tool player’

Shortly after the Mariners made Ford the 12th overall pick of this year’s draft, Mariners director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter spoke to reporters about the team’s newest prospect.

Hunter said that everyone he spoke to expected the Mariners to take a college pitcher for the fourth year in a row, but Ford’s mix of athleticism and maturity was too much to pass up.

“When you can get an athlete like Harry Ford to start building another part of our organization – we feel we’re pretty deep in pitching right now – and to have a player this high on our board get to us and really be able to dream one where, as we’ve said, we’re calling him a catcher but this kid can play center field, he can play second base,” Hunter said. “We’re going to send him out as a catcher, but he has a toolset of a true five-tool player, so to say he’s just a catcher is probably an understatement. We’re truly excited about adding an offensive impact bat like Harry.”

The mindset for the Mariners, Hunter said, was to take a bat “if all things are equal,” and that Ford had been on his radar for quite some time.

“The kid he is maturity-wise, the adversity he’s seen as a kid growing up and just the presence he has, I think you guys will be amazed with once you get to meet him,” Hunter said. “He’s focused on the right things, he comes from a good family and he fits what we’re doing as the Seattle Mariners really well.”

Hunter and Dipoto had Ford take batting practice in front of them during the pre-draft process, and that round played a big part in what sold the Mariners on Ford.

“He went to the cage, he did his routine and the first two rounds of BP, he slaps a donut on his bat – a weight – and starts taking batting practice like some of the big leaguers do,” Hunter said. “I’m sitting there watching this like, ‘Is this kid for real right now? He’s just hitting line drives to right field with a weighted donut on his bat while the GM’s there.’ And then he took it off and he started spraying balls around and we walked out of there going, ‘This kid has a maturity level that is beyond his years and he took a major league batting practice in front of a major league GM.’ … That was what really solidified it for us.”

Hunter added that there’s no concerns with being able to sign Ford, who’s a Georgia Tech commit, and that he thinks Seattle got the most athletic player in this year’s draft class.

“Just the explosiveness,” Hunter said of what stands out about Ford. ” … It’s probably metrics-wise the most athletic kid in the draft.”

“The pure explosiveness, the pure athleticism, the hand speed, the old school scouting of hand speed and foot speed and all those good things, he hits all of those things,” he later added. “When you start watching this kid just roll around a baseball field, you just notice it’s different. When he wants to run, he runs. When he wants to throw, he lets it loose and it’s a top-of-the-scale arm.”

The Mariners will continue the draft when the second round starts at 10 a.m. Monday.

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