Over the years Mike Ford has been a consistently good offensive performer who has received little fanfare. This is mostly due to the position he plays (first-base), and his background as an undrafted free-agent out of an Ivy League school. These factors hurt Ford’s prospect status, but Ford’s overall performance is too good to be ignored.
Ford’s 2016 season only started in mid-July due to a wrist injury that he suffered in 2015. He officially began his rehab with the Staten Island Yankees on July 16th. He played four games at the level before being promoted to the Tampa Yankees for ten games. Ford was then promoted to AA where he spent the rest of the year.
In 42 games in AA Ford put up the following offensive numbers: .175 ISO, .417 OBP, .455 SLG, .393 wOBA, and 144 wRC+. For players with a minimum of 100 Plate Appearances in the Eastern League, he ranked 11th in wRC+, 11th in wOBA, 3rd in OBP. So overall he had a very impressive season even when you factor in his age (23).
With that said there’s a reason he isn’t considered a top prospect or even one of the Yankees top-30 prospects, and that’s because first-baseman are better power hitters. He had the 33rd best SLG percentage in the Eastern League (min 100 PA). However, there are some decent major league first basemen with an ISO near .175; Jose Abreu posted that exact number last year, and Travis Shaw posted a .179 ISO. Adrian Gonzalez and Eric Hosmer both posted lower ISO this season, and Hosmer has never posted a .175 ISO in his major league career.
So while I wouldn’t consider Ford a top prospect, I don’t think it’s fair to ignore him due to his lack of power completely. But he’s the type of prospect that has to prove himself on a yearly basis and would have to play himself onto a major league roster. I think that’s a possibility, but it’s also worth noting that the Yankees opted not to protect him from the Rule-5 draft.
Ford will probably begin the 2017 season in AA, but if he keeps hitting like he did last year could earn himself a quick promotion. The Yankees don’t have anyone blocking him in AAA at the moment, so it’s possible for him to progress quickly and set himself up to be in position for a shot at the majors if the team suffers as many injuries at the position as it did this past year.