Mike Ford was called up by the Yankees on Tuesday morning when Greg Bird went on the injured list, and he will be making his Major League debut on Thursday night when he is the designated hitter against the Kansas City Royals.
At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Ford has swung the bat very well. In 10 games, he hit .410 (16-39) with 5 home runs and 14 RBI.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said in his pregame press conference on Thursday about making Ford the DH, "Just wanted to get him in there, considered it the day before, you know, like the matchup there (against Kansas City starter Homer Bailey) and hopefully he can go out and get comfortable and continue the start that he's gotten off to at Triple-A and help us here."
This culminates a six-year quest for Ford, from when the Belle Mead, New Jersey native was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 17, 2013 by the Yankees and then played 561 games in their minor league system.
Bird said of Ford's perseverance being rewarded, "Yeah, the path's different for everyone, right, and today is, you know, I've talked to you guys about Opening Day being a celebration of our sport - today, in a lot of ways, a celebration for him. I mean, thinking back to my Major League debut, there's a lot that goes into that. There's a lot of people that impact that. It's usually a special family moment, and it's something now that you can never take away from somebody, that you're a big league ballplayer. Now, he gets a chance to actually come up here and impact us in, hopefully, a good way. Everyone's story is a little bit different and they're all unique and they're all interesting, his notwithstanding."
Ford's professional career began with short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2013, then in 2014 he played at the next two single-A affiliates, Charleston and Tampa. In 2015, he played at Tampa, where he was a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star and ranked fourth in the FSL in walks. In 123 games, he hit .260 with 6 home runs and 55 RBI, and 62 runs scored, with 23 doubles and 3 triples.
In 2016, Ford split time between Tampa, Staten Island, and Double-A Trenton, and then 2017 was split between Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In December 2017, he was selected by the Seattle Mariners from the Yankees in the first round of the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and then was returned to the Yankees in March 2018.
In 2018, Ford played 102 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .253 (93-367) with 15 home runs and 52 RBI, with 48 runs scored and 21 doubles and 37 walks, along with 70 strikeouts. He closed the season with six games at Staten Island.