ESPN’s Yates on Mariners’ Harry Ford: ‘This kid’s gonna be pretty good’

Mar 15, 2023, 3:28 PM
Mariners Harry Ford...
Harry Ford of Team Great Britain reacts after hitting a home run on March 12, 2023. (Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

There are Mariners all over the place in the World Baseball Classic, including Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández playing for the Dominican Republic, Eugenio Suárez manning the hot corner for Venezuela and even Matt Festa in Italy’s bullpen.

But the member of the Mariners who has turned the most heads with his World Baseball Classic performance is someone who hasn’t played above A-ball.

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That would be catcher Harry Ford, the Mariners’ 20-year-old No. 1-rated prospect who played for Great Britain in this year’s WBC.

Ford dominated in qualifying games last year, mashing home run after home run, and in the actual tournament itself this week, the 2021 first-round pick slugged two more homers while serving as Great Britain’s best player.

ESPN writer Clinton Yates, a regular panelist on Around The Horn, recently wrote about Ford’s WBC experience and what he means to Great Britain’s club. On Wednesday, he joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy to share his insight into the Mariners’ top prospect.

Yates told Bump and Stacy that he largely covers Black athletes in his work, and that he’s known Ford, who is Black, since he was a top high school prospect.

The two met initially during the Perfect Game All-American Game when Ford was still in high school. Ford didn’t stand out in terms of his stature as he’s 5 foot 10, so Yates’ first thought was that this catcher “must really be a gamer.” That has certainly proven to be the case.

“That’s kind of a large part about what he is. He’s just got an aptitude for what baseball is, which obviously comes with being a catcher, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that you have the drive to be a better person in terms of (being a good) teammate and all that,” Yates said. “And that’s what’s kind of the cool part about him is he’s just a humble dude who happens to be really good at baseball. It’s kind of wild to think because the way that (Great Britain) team is constructed – the way a lot of those (WBC) teams are constructed. You’ve got to meld a lot of different personalities, and to have such a young player at such a vital position, I just think it’s remarkable overall.”

Ford is very mature and focused for his age, which Bump and Stacy co-host Michael Bumpus said reminded him of former top Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic, who is still looking to find his footing at the MLB level. Bump asked Yates if Ford’s serious nature is something that could be seen as a potential negative.

“No, it’s not that he’s too serious, it’s just that he knows what he’s doing,” Yates said. “… The bottom line is that when you’re playing baseball, that’s still your job. If you’re doing it seriously and taking it seriously, you’re probably going to be better at your job. Harry’s not the kind of guy – at least not in my opinion – that’s going to turn people off … He’s not some hardo who’s going crazy like that.”

“It takes a lot to catch. I mean, it’s arguably the most intellectual position on the field,” he added. “… It is as academic a position on the field as any. So yeah, you want somebody who’s taking it seriously and is pretty good at it, as well.”

So just how important or notable is it that Ford has shined in a tournament loaded with MLB players and stars?

“I think him playing well in this tournament showing leadership, I mean, it’s got to build for whatever’s coming next at the next level in the system for the Mariners,” Yates said. “… I think it’s a perfect time for a kid at that age in that position to do something like this, and I think it’s worked out well. People want to argue about how certain types of players should not be in the World Baseball Classic because it stunts their development or whatever they’re doing to get in the process for spring training, (but) I think it’s the exact opposite here. The Mariners are probably pleased that this has gone the way that it has, and I would be, too.”

Yates also had a simple message for those just now learning about Ford.

“Look, America, this kid’s gonna be pretty good. Might as well pay attention right now.”

Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.

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ESPN’s Yates on Mariners’ Harry Ford: ‘This kid’s gonna be pretty good’