On his first call-up to the major leagues, brand new New York Yankee Mike Ford was still accessible, while being a bit swamped, to his friends at Diamond Nation.
He answers were understandably short and clipped, as if he was alighting from an Uber in front of Yankees Stadium. “Thank you. Call me tomorrow. Yeah, madness,” were Ford’s responses to three questions.
“Mike has earned the opportunity to play in the big leagues,” said Ford’s college mentor, Princeton coach Scott Bradley. “We are all very excited to see him in a Yankee uniform. Bradley’s first major league stop was with the Yankees.
Being elevated from the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders to Yankees Stadium can be a bit like Dorothy Gale’s flight from Kansas to Oz, but if anyone is capable of a handling that drastic change of environment, it is the unflappable Ford. The Princeton and Hun School grad from Belle Mead in Somerset County has certainly not been the anointed one during his rise through the Yankees minor league system.
Indeed, Ford qualifies as the relentless grinder, head down, eyes focused on his goals. The latest injury to Yankees first baseman Greg Bird finally opened the door to ‘The Show’ for the former Diamond Jack.
Ford followed a strong 2018 season with the Railriders with a fast start to 2019. The lefty-hitting first baseman went 16-for-39 (.410) with five HRs and 14 RBI in the Railriders’ first 10 games. He boasts a 1.364 OPS. The lefty-hitting Bird has shared first base and the DH role with righty-hitting teammate Luke Voit. Both are batting below .200 thus far for the injury-depleted 6-9 Yankees.
Voit is in the lineup tonight, playing first base and batting third and Clint Frazier has been inserted at DH. It would have been quite a challenging entry into the big leagues had Ford gotten the start, considering lefthander Chris Sale is on the mound for the Red Sox. Don’t be surprised to see Ford get a look tonight if the Sox go to a righty in the pen.
Ford batted .252 last season for the Railriders, hitting 15 HRs and driving in 52 runs. He had been selected by Seattle in the Rule 5 Draft during the winter of 2018 but the Mariners returned Ford to the Yankees. The Princeton alum has batted .271 in six full minor league seasons, hitting 71 HRs and driving home 325 runs.
Ford was not drafted after a junior campaign at Princeton in 2013 in which he remarkably earned both the Ivy League’s Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards. No other player had done so in Ivy League history.
But Ford was still being watched carefully by scouts that summer in the Cape Cod League where his play drew the interest of the Yankees, who would offer him a free agent contract.
He began his four years of play with the Diamond Jacks program at Diamond Nation in Flemington, N.J. at the tender age of 14.
“Mike is a top shelf human being,” said Diamond Nation’s catching and hitting instructor Travis Anderson. “He plays hard and is a true professional. Mike always has a smile on his face and has a fire that burns like no other. I will always remember him being very thankful to the people who have coached him and that is a great trait to have.”
Before he left for his freshman year at Princeton, the classy Ford thanked those coaches and the Diamond Jacks program that helped to hone his skills.
“The Diamond Jacks program has helped me tremendously in pursuit of my dreams to play Division 1 baseball and hopefully make it to the major leagues,” he said.
Well, welcome to the big time, Mike.