New York Yankees first baseman Mike Ford is not only “Ford Tough,” but he’s also always ready for the next-man-up carousel.
One after another, the New York Yankees have seamlessly gotten the most out of guys who never had a chance to obtain everyday at-bats.
From Mike Tauchman and Cameron Maybin to Gio Urshela, teams across the league have been put on notice to maybe think twice before releasing depth players who have potential.
The injured list, of course, played a huge role in giving all these players chances. Mike Ford was promoted back in April when Greg Bird went on the injured list. At the time, although finally hitting his first home run in Los Angeles, Ford never got into a groove with starting first baseman Luke Voit and all-around utility man DJ LeMahieu blocking him. The Yankees sent him down after two weeks.
Ford played college baseball for Princeton University and went undrafted in the 2012 draft and signed with the Yankees as a free agent. Five years later, the Mariners selected him in the Rule 5 Draft only to return him to the Yankees a second time. Ford was a decent hitter in the minor leagues and could work counts with his plate discipline. It wasn’t until this year in Triple-A where he hit for power with 23 home runs and an outstanding wRC+ of 151.
Now with Voit and Edwin Encarnacion hurt, the Yankees called up Mike Ford for the second time this year. This time, Ford and his abilities are being put to the test.
Similar to Voit last year, Ford accepted the challenge and has been more than competent at the first base corner. Over his last eight games, he has five home runs, one of them against Clayton Kershaw on Sunday Night Baseball.
Ford gets to enjoy playing against his former team who he was with for three months. On Monday, he hit two home runs, both against left-handed pitching. He’s a huge reason why the Yankees won that night. Don’t throw anything high-and-in to him either, as he corked a home run into right field against former Yankee Justus Sheffield Wednesday afternoon.
Ford is a great story which can resonate to anyone who’s struggled to climb up the ranks for any profession.
“I’ve been in the minor leagues a long time and once you settle down, everyone’s better here but it’s the same game,” Ford said after Monday’s win. “We’re playing a kid’s game and we get to do it for a job. Just trying to have fun and be that same confident guy I was down there.”
Ford’s gotten so popular in the New York media lately that he was on ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show yesterday and discussed how important the Yankees coaching staff is.
“It’s a testament to the coaching staff that they have up and down throughout the organization,” said Ford. “When you come up you’re pretty comfortable, the clubhouse’s accepting. They prepared you for it.”
Ford even got to pitch for the Yankees. He happened to be a great pitcher in his college years. Although he gave up five runs to the Indians in a blowout game, Ford struck out Roberto Perez after realizing to throw slower stuff to get the batters off track.
“I know that pitch wasn’t a strike,” Ford said. “But I’m keeping the baseball.”
For the Yankees, it’s a great problem to have a surplus amount of depth at any position. If everyone is healthy for the playoffs, Ford won’t be a factor unfortunately for his sake. At the same time, Ford is making a case to be at least a bench bat for the Yankees next year or on a Major League team somewhere else. This is similar to what Ji-Man Choi experienced a couple of years ago. Choi went on to be a plug-in first baseman for the Rays and is still on the Major League roster.
The Yankees should be wary of the past considering Greg Bird was supposed to be the first baseman for the next decade and turned out to injury-prone. They should not 100% think Voit will man the ship for the next five years. There’s still time to evaluate Ford and to go day-by-day with him.
For now, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.