Yankees get back former Rule 5 draft pick Mike Ford

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15: The hat and glasses of Andruw Jones
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 15: The hat and glasses of Andruw Jones /

As we patiently await (yeah, right) the results of Greg Bird’s CT scan and MRI of his injured right foot, the Yankees received some good news, as former Rule 5 pick, Mike Ford has been returned from the Mariners.

The one downside of having a top 10 minor league system, is that come Rule 5 draft time, other needy clubs often beseech your farm system. And although the Yankees lost a handful of prospects over the past two years, a few have come back, unable to secure a 25-man roster spot with their new clubs.

With the somewhat surprising news that Greg Bird was headed back to New York to undergo tests due to inflammation of his right foot, the Yanks pleasantly welcomed back 25-year-old first baseman, Mike Ford from the Seattle Mariners.

Over the course of 126 games last season at Double-A Trenton, and then Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Ford raked to the tune of a .270/.404/.471 slash, with 20 homers, 24 doubles, 86 RBI and an ultra-impressive 72:94 K:BB ratio in 429 at-bats.

Perhaps because Ford was already in his mid-20s, had yet to reach the majors and appeared to be blocked by Bird, the Yanks left him hanging for the Rule 5 draft.

I for one was bummed to see a guy who grown immensely at the plate, leave before he showed the Bombers what he was or wasn’t capable of at the big league level.

Since making a career-high 15 errors at High-A Tampa in 2015, Ford, the former Princeton product, has only compiled eight in total the past two seasons.

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Although Ford got off to a slow start this spring for the Mariners, he had turned around over his last five games, going 8-for-13 with a home run. In total, Ford hit .259 with two long balls and 10 RBI during Cactus League play.

Upon returning to the Yankees, Ford was optioned to Triple-A, where it looks like he won’t have to split time with Tyler Austin. This is likely due to Austin heading back to the Bronx, as Bird will be hard-pressed to be ready in time to open the season on Thursday.

After initially learning of Bird’s injury, stemming from the same ankle he had surgery on in 2017, Austin gave a vote of confidence to NJ.com, should he get the call.

"“I’m ready for whatever the situation is,” Austin said after the Yankees’ 9-3 split-squad win over the Braves at Champion Stadium on Saturday."

The question now is, are the Yankees ready to roll without Bird at first?

Should Bird miss time, I’d venture to say we’ll initially see 10-year veteran Neil Walker handle the majority of innings at the position versus right-handed pitching.

Due to Austin’s propensity for crushing southpaws, he should get the bulk of starts when lefties are on the hill.

Making roster adjustments on the fly, especially so close to opening day isn’t ideal, but that’s why the Yanks have protected themselves with a few insurance policies.

Next: Big surprise, Greg Bird is hurt

As it turns out, Mike Ford’s return couldn’t have come at a better time — considering he may make his professional debut sooner rather than later.