Who’s on first? An introduction to Mike Ford
Death, taxes, and injured Yankees, well, at least that’s what it feels like. The latest to succumb to the 2019 injury bug is first baseman Greg Bird with a plantar fascia tear. At the break of the news, Bird was placed on the 10-day IL, but after some review it seems the injury is more severe than originally expected. An injury of this nature will likely sideline Bird for at least a couple months, if not more. Although past injuries that Bird has suffered are not related, it’s worth mentioning that Bird has played just 140 major league games since 2015.
Injuries have plagued Manager Aaron Boone’s roster construction plan. In the spring, it was thought that either Greg Bird or Luke Voit would make the final roster, not both. Boone suggested that DJ LeMahieu would fill in as a backup first baseman if needed but obviously, LeMahieu’s services have been needed elsewhere in the infield. That created the need for both Voit and Bird, but with Bird’s recent injury, a void has been created. In response, the Yankees called up Mike Ford.
Born and bred in New Jersey, Mike Ford was signed by the Yankees as a free agent to a minor league contract in 2013. He had a three-year career at Princeton University where he played first as well as pitched. In fact, he was an effective pitcher. In 2013, he went 6-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA, but I digress. He didn’t get signed as a pitcher; he got signed because he hits bombs. The first introduction of this was in May of 2014. The power-hitting lefty was with the Charleston Riverdogs when he hit four dingers in a single game, a feat that only 18 major leaguers have accomplished. Granted, it was Single-A ball and not Major League competition, but indisputably impressive nonetheless.
Fast forward to 2016 where Ford went from playing for Staten Island and Tampa to ultimately getting called up to Trenton for AA ball. In 56 games between the three clubs, Ford hit .289, with an OBP of .411 and slugged .479. All told, he tallied eight home runs and coupled that with 43 RBIs. However, what I appreciate most about Ford’s play early in his career is his plate discipline. In that same year, Ford collected 41 walks while only striking out 29 times.
His strong minor league performance garnered the interest of other major league clubs as the Seattle Mariners scooped him up in the 2017 Rule-5 draft. His trip to the Pacific Northwest was brief, though. He rejoined the Yankees in March 2017, splitting time between Trenton-AA and Scranton-AAA. During that year he clobbered 20 home runs in 126 games.
Ford spent almost all of 2018 in AAA-Scranton. His power stayed consistent, but perhaps he had been swinging too aggressively. His strikeout total climbed to 73 in 108 games while only amassing 39 walks. That’s something I’m sure he’s worked on because in 2019 Ford has been swinging an incredibly hot bat. As a Scranton RailRider, he’s mashed 16 hits in 39 plate appearances. Five of those hits are home runs while an additional four are doubles.
So, what do we have in Mike Ford? We have Jersey guy who grew up as a Yankees fan who’s now donning pinstripes. What’s more is that he’s a left-handed hitter with power and proven discipline at the plate. That is ideally what Greg Bird was tasked to do with the Yankees. If Mike Ford can rise to the occasion and play to his, the Yankees will have a suitable replacement, if not an upgrade.
Article by: John MessinaFollow @j_mess2 Follow @bronxbomberball