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Mariners select prep catcher Harry Ford with 12th pick in 2021 MLB draft

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Not just a prep, but a prep CATCHER? My wig has flown to the stars

This is one of the more mysterious drafts we’ve had in a while, with no real clear-cut top tier of prospects, a very deep prep class—always a tricky one to predict because of signing bonuses and college commitments—vs. a relatively shallow college class, and rumors abounding up to draft day about different routes teams might take. With our own Seattle Mariners, we’ve had to square what the Mariners brass has said about seeking athletic upside vs. the college bats to which they’ve consistently been linked at various outlets.

Now we have our answer, and it is a surprising one: the Mariners selected catcher Harry Ford, a Georgia high schooler, with the 12th overall pick.

The 2021 Draft got off to a little bit of a wild start when it was reported Pittsburgh would be taking Henry Davis, the Louisville catcher, with the first overall pick in an underslot deal, essentially handing the Rangers the first pick in the draft. Things continued to get wild from there, with 5th-ranked SS prospect Kahlil Watson still on the board when the Mariners picked, but we’d been hearing the Mariners liked Ford, and sure enough, that’s who they stuck with.

Ford has been one of Joe’s favorites in the Draft for a long time, and it’s not hard to see why: he’s ultra-athletic—like 70-grade speed athletic—with a shot to either play catcher or transition to an outfield position (or even infield position!) depending on how he develops. As a catcher he earns praise for his soft hands and quiet receiving, with a strong if not always accurate arm behind the plate. Refining arm accuracy is an achievable developmental skill, though, much more so than developing arm strength in the first place, and it’s important to remember this is an 18-year-old we’re talking about here, with a long, long developmental path ahead of him. The Mariners are betting that Ford’s overall athleticism will allow them to plug him into his best fit on the field, although he’ll obviously be given every opportunity to stick behind the dish, and many scouts are high on his ability to do just that.

At the plate, Ford has quick hands and one of the fastest bats in the class, with a mature plate approach and a good deal of raw power from the right side. He’s got natural loft in his swing that should result in plus power as he continues to mature physically.

This is obviously a departure for the college-heavy Mariners—there’s no riskier demographic than a prep catcher—so that should tell you how strongly the scouting department feels about Ford, who also earns praise for his work ethic from coaches, and has for quite some time:

It will be a long climb towards Seattle for Ford, but we’re excited to watch him grow and develop as a Mariner as one of the first true “projects” this front office has taken on. There is an awful lot to dream on here with the ultra-athleticism of Ford, and we’ll chronicle it all for you here on Lookout Landing in the coming years.