Sunday Notes: Born To Brits, Harry Ford Might Be MLB’s Subsequent Nice Black Catcher

Harry Ford is among the prime prospects within the Seattle Mariners group, and he’s additionally distinctive amongst his friends. Born Harrison Michael Ford, in Atlanta, 20 years in the past this week, the right-handed-hitting catcher is the son of English immigrants. His mom spent her childhood in London, whereas his father — “an actual Brit; he nonetheless has an accent”— got here to the U.S. just a little over 20 years in the past from Oxford. Furthermore, his multi-national upbringing included his household’s having hosted trade college students from Argentina, Brazil, and Germany.

If the above checklist of nations has you questioning if soccer — soccer to us right here within the States — has been part of his life, the reply is sure. Ford’s father is a big Arsenal fan who used to play in a aggressive males’s league, whereas the teen impressed on the pitch in his schoolboy days earlier than turning his full consideration to baseball. On condition that Ford is a muscular 5-foot-10, 200-pounds and has been known as a unicorn because of the pace that augments his body, how good may he have been had he pursued his father’s favourite sport reasonably than America’s nationwide pastime?

“I believe I’d go loopy in soccer!” was Ford’s fun-loving (and fairly presumably correct) response to that query, which means that he would excel. As a substitute he’s excelling on the diamond, and he’s doing so at a place that belies his athleticism. How he discovered himself carrying the instruments of ignorance was a matter of happenstance.

“I used to be all the time a 3rd baseman, however once I was eight or 10 we wanted somebody to play catcher,” defined Ford, whom the Mariners took twelfth total within the 2021 draft. “I keep in mind that there was this royal blue, actually ugly gear, and I used to be like, ‘I’ll attempt it. Why not? ‘I received again there and favored it, and haven’t left it since.”

As unusual as it’s for elite athletes to finish up behind the plate, it has been an excellent much less widespread vacation spot for African Individuals. Black catchers have been few and much between in MLB historical past. To Ford’s thoughts, “It is going to be cool to alter that stigma.”

Sarcastically, the primary recognized Black participant at baseball’s highest degree was a catcher; Moses Fleetwood Walker performed for the American Affiliation’s Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884. (Some historians credit score William White, who handed as white whereas enjoying in a single recreation for the Nationwide League’s Windfall Grays in 1879.)

Josh Gibson — arguably the most effective ever to play the place — by no means received an opportunity to show his immense expertise in MLB. His ultimate skilled season was 1946, one 12 months earlier than Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier. Roy Campanella, a Negro League modern of Gibson’s for a number of seasons, joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948 and went on to play 10 MLB seasons, likewise establishing himself as an all-time nice. Notable Black catchers within the post-integration period embody Elston Howard, Earl Battey, and John Roseboro.

Ford, whose mom is Black, is nicely acquainted with a newer African American backstop. Charles Johnson caught within the huge leagues from 1994-2005, primarily with the Florida Marlins.

“I went to his baseball camp for 2 years in a row and set to work with him lots,” defined Ford. “There was a bunch of Black catchers there, too — a really gifted group — which was cool. It was superior attending to study from a man like that.”

Ford is now studying on the skilled degree, and that training contains the additional honing of offensive abilities which can be superior for a participant so younger. His 2022 numbers at Low-A Modesto are eye-opening. Pairing a line-drive stroke and plus plate self-discipline, Ford slashed .274/.425/.439 with 11 dwelling runs in 499 plate appearances. Requested to explain the swing that produced that manufacturing, Ford mentioned it “seems to be attractive!”

As was the case when he mentioned he would “go loopy in soccer,” Ford’s reply got here not with bravado, however reasonably with a mixture of playfulness and youthful exuberance. Very similar to 22-year-old Mariners wunderkind Julio Rodriguez, Ford exudes character. Equal elements assured and humble, Ford likes to have enjoyable.

“I’d agree with that” mentioned Ford. “I’m not likely on the Julio degree, although. I imply, he seems to be like a five-year-old on the market enjoying the sport. The enjoyment he brings is unbelievable. However whereas I positively like having enjoyable, I’m additionally a thinker. I like breaking issues down, So whereas I’ve just a little little bit of Julio in me, I’m additionally my very own particular person.”

Ford would have attended Georgia Tech had he not signed with the Mariners, and the programs of research he had in thoughts have been engineering and psychology. And whereas he does nonetheless hope to pursue a university diploma, that’s down the street. Ford’s focus is now 100% baseball, the place he hopes not solely to be a Seattle Mariner, but additionally to hitch the ranks of MLB’s Black catchers. That he would accomplish that because the son of English immigrants — one who’s representing Nice Britain on this 12 months’s WBC — solely provides to his degree of uniqueness.



Ellis Valentine went 19 for 47 in opposition to Steve Carlton.

Warren Cromartie went 12 for 17 in opposition to Rick Camp.

Andre Dawson went 12 for 21 in opposition to Mark Grant.

Tim Raines went 11 for 17 in opposition to John Stuper.

Gary Carter went 10 for 14 in opposition to Donnie Moore.


Left on the cutting-room flooring from final week’s interview with Arizona Diamondbacks farm director Josh Barfield have been his ideas on 19-year-old left-hander Yu-Min Lin. Signed as a global free agent in December 2021, the Taitung, Taiwan native logged a 2.72 ERA with 91 strikeouts and simply 40 hits allowed in 56-and-a-third innings final 12 months between rookie ball and Low-A Visalia. His having pitched within the California League isn’t one thing the D-Backs anticipated.

“The plan was to simply have him within the Complicated [League] final 12 months to get him initiated to professional ball,” Barfield defined. “However he exceeded all people’s expectations, breezing by way of there after which additionally pitching nicely at Visalia. For a younger child to return over right here for the primary time and try this was actually spectacular. His pitch-ability is off the charts.”

Barfield went on to say that Lin has six pitches, however that the group will probably be seeking to pare that down. He known as the teen’s changeup and breaking stuff “actually good,”including that his fastball “touches ones and twos” and generally even 93 [mph]. Barfield expects the 5-foot-11, 160-pound lefty’s velocity to extend as he will get stronger.”


John Manuel was a visitor on Friday’s Prospect Week episode of FanGraphs Audio, with the historical past of prospect rankings serving as the first matter. The previous Baseball America managing editor, and present Minnesota Twins scout, seemed again at a number of gamers, together with one whom Manuel considers certainly one of his best misses.

“Verlander began the sport the US [national team] needed to win to make the Gold Medal recreation,” recalled Manuel. “His teammates didn’t love Verlander. I discovered later that Verlander actually received right into a fistfight with Dustin Pedroia that summer time. I imagine it was truly within the semi-final recreation in opposition to the Dominican Republic. If you happen to undergo their careers, Justin Verlander drank Dustin Pedroia’s milkshake for a very long time. He by no means forgot that little private rivalry. These guys didn’t get alongside.”

(Pedroia went 3-for-27 versus Verlander, with two walks and three strikeouts.)

“I had lots of unfavourable vibes on Justin Verlander,” continued Manuel. “I assumed that he was going to be a reliever. That’s why we underrated him; that’s why he was No. 3 on [Baseball America’s Tigers list in 2005], and why he wasn’t on our High 100. That’s the story.”

Among the many many different rankings and stories addressed by Manuel was his writeup of then 17-year-old Freddie Freeman. On the time, some scouts most well-liked Freeman as a pitcher, and expectations have been that he would have been a two-way participant had he attended Cal State-Fullerton reasonably than signing with the Atlanta Braves out of highschool.

Your complete pod, which incorporates Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin speaking about how they put our High 100 collectively, is nicely price a pay attention.


A quiz:

Greg Maddux (176) had probably the most pitcher wins within the Nineteen Nineties, and Jack Morris (162) had probably the most within the Nineteen Eighties. Which pitcher had probably the most wins within the Seventies?

The reply will be discovered under.



Saberseminar is getting back from a three-year hiatus this summer time, in a special metropolis. Historically held in Boston, the can’t-miss occasion will happen in Chicago on August 12-13. Extra info will be discovered here.

The Miami Marlins introduced this week that Kyle Sielaff would be the staff’s new radio play-by-play broadcaster. The 32-year-old Trumansburg, New York native replaces Glenn Geffner, who joined the Marlins’ sales space in 2008.

Alex Herrera, a left-handed reliever for the Cleveland Indians in 2002 and 2003, died earlier this month at age 43. The Maracaibo, Venezuela native appeared in 15 video games and didn’t earn a call.


The reply to the quiz is Jim Palmer, with 186 wins. Gaylord Perry was shut behind with 184.


Rely Heston Kjerstad amongst those that have been impressed with Andrew Painter. Once I requested the Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect which of the pitchers he confronted final 12 months stood out probably the most, he cited a 19-year-old right-hander within the Philadelphia Phillies system.

“I most likely need to go together with Andrew Painter,” Kjerstad mentioned of the No. 5 prospect on our recently-released High 100. “He’s actually good, and actually younger, too. He’s 19 and was constantly 96-98 [mph] with three different pitches he may command.”

Kjerstad described Painter’s heater as having “just a little little bit of journey to it,” and was of the opinion that the curveball was his finest secondary providing. The fast-rising hurler’s skill to command the pitch to totally different places was a notable attribute.


Cole Irvin has been interviewed for print right here at FanGraphs, and he’s additionally been a visitor on FanGraphs Audio. A member of the Oakland Athletics when these conversations happened, the 29-year-old southpaw is now with the Orioles, having been traded to Baltimore final month, together with Kyle Virbitsky, in trade for Darell Hernaiz. Irvin met with the media by way of Zoom shortly after the deal was introduced, and among the many issues he instructed reporters was that the brand new pitch clock received’t be a difficulty for him, as he “likes to get the ball and go.” Irvin additionally mentioned that the brand new dimensions at Camden Yards shall be to his liking; because the quotable hurler identified, “left subject is being pushed again just a little bit… lots of bit.”

He additionally addressed his M.O. on the mound, as evidenced by final 12 months’s 3.98 ERA over 181 innings having been accompanied by a humble 17.3% strikeout charge. Irvin isn’t an influence pitcher. It’s a indisputable fact that he readily accepts, and has been forthcoming about up to now.

“I is probably not fancy, and I is probably not lighting up the radar gun, however on the finish of the day my job is to get hitters out,” mentioned Irvin, whose fastball averaged 90.9 mph. “There are occasions I believe I beat a lifeless horse with that.”


Listening to earlier this week that reporters at New York Mets camp have been instructed to go away the sphere as a result of the staff was about to do a proprietary drill received me serious about a Buck Showalter stratagem from just a few years again. When he was skippering the Orioles, Showalter would generally place his first baseman off the bag with a runner on first base — not as a result of he was slow-footed, however reasonably as a means of holding him on. The thought was that the runner may see the primary baseman out of the nook of his eye, and if the primary baseman feinted again towards the bag because the pitcher was getting ready to ship, the runner would instinctually suppose pickoff risk and shift his weight in a backward path. Given the brand new limited-pickoff rule that shall be in play this 12 months, that is one thing we may even see groups attempting.



At The New York Occasions, Tyler Kepner wrote about how the Detroit Tigers — now below the management of President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris — are staying affected person in baseball’s ready recreation.

Phil Regan, who was 82 years previous when he was changed as New York Mets pitching coach following the 2019 season, is suing the staff for age discrimination. Isabel Gonzalez has the story at CBS Sports activities.’s Michael Clair wrote about Jocko Maxwell, the primary Black sportscaster in radio historical past.

St. Louis Cardinals supervisor Oliver Marmol opined that C.B. Bucknor “has zero class” after the frequently-criticized umpire refused to shake fingers throughout Saturday’s pregame assembly. Jack Baer has the specifics at Yahoo Sports activities.

Chicago White Sox prospect Anderson Comas is the latest participant to return out publicly as homosexual. Cyd Zeigler has the story at OutSports.



The Los Angeles Dodgers used 5 beginning pitchers whereas profitable 95 video games in 1966. Sandy Koufax made 41 begins, Don Drysdale 40, Claude Osteen 39, Don Sutton 37, and Joe Moeller 8. Koufax had 27 of the membership’s 52 full video games.

Jason Kipnis hqd 1,147 hits, 126 dwelling runs, a 103 wRC+, and 21.0 WAR.
Jed Lowrie has 1,185 hits, 121 dwelling runs, a 103 wRC+, and 19.8 WAR.

Bernie Williams had 2,336 hits, 449 doubles, and 147 steals in 234 makes an attempt.
B.J. Surhoff had 2,326 hits, 440 double, and 141 steals in 225 makes an attempt.

Jimmie Foxx had a minimum of 30 dwelling runs and 100 RBIs ever 12 months from 1929-1940, a 12-season stretch the place he averaged 40 dwelling runs and 137 RBIs, in addition to a .334 batting common and a 166 wRC+.

The Boston Braves signed Babe Ruth on at present’s date in 1935. Reportedly a pre-arranged deal between the staff’s house owners, Ruth had been launched by the Yankees earlier the identical day. “The Bambino” hit the final of his 714 dwelling runs in a Braves uniform earlier than calling it a profession on Could thirtieth.

Gamers born on at present’s date embody Vic Janowicz, a catcher/third baseman who noticed motion in 83 video games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953-1954. A multi-position participant on the gridiron, the Ohio State College product received the Heisman Trophy in 1950 and performed for the Washington Redskins in 1954 and 1955.

Additionally born on at present’s date was Preacher Roe, who allowed the primary of Janowicz’s two big-league dwelling runs. A southpaw from Viola, Arkansas — he was born in close by Ash Flat — Roe had a six-year-stretch (1948-1953) the place he went 90-33 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The 4 groups that comprised the Purple River Valley League in 1897 have been the Fargo Divorcees, Grand Forks Senators, Moorhead Barmaids, and Wahpeton-Breckenridge Methodists.