Yesterday kicked off the MLB Draft, with the first 37 selections encompassing the first round as well as the Competitive Balance round A being made. The Red Sox had one of those picks at number 17 overall. After being connected to a lot of high upside high school players such as Mick Abel throughout the week leading up to the first round, they did go with a prep player, but not one anyone was expecting. The Red Sox went with Nick Yorke with this selection. Let’s get to know him a little bit better.
Name: Nick Yorke
School: Archbishop Mitty HS; San Jose, CA (notable alumni include Mitch Haniger and current Red Sox RHP Trevor Hildenberger)
College Commitment: University of Arizona
Baseball America: 96
MLB Pipeline: 139
Yorke was certainly picked for his bat rather than his defense, which we will get to in just a second. The bat is the prize here, though, and specifically it is the hit tool. Said hit tool was said by Baseball America to have plus potential down the road, and MLB Pipeline put a 55 (above average) grade on it. Now, we should of course mention that a hit tool is easily the hardest tool to project for a prospect. That is not to say it’s not important, of course. In fact, I would argue it’s the most important. It’s just that there is always work to do to make sure a prep player, even one with a strong hit tool coming out of school, can continue to make contact as he makes his way up the ladder.
It should also be mentioned that a hit tool can have different interpretations. Yorke, according to scouts, does make very good contact and seems to have the ability to spray line drives all over the field. That alone could lead to someone getting a good tool here. However, we know there’s more to hitting than just the contact. You need a good approach to succeed and get on base, and Yorke has that as well. This is a big advantage for him as a prep player as players from high school often are much more on the raw side in terms of approach. Red Sox director of amateur scouting compared Yorke to Kevin Youkilis, which is about the highest compliment one can receive when thinking about approaches at the plate.
As for the power, this is where the questions come on the offensive side. Right now, the expectation is that he will probably settle in a little bit below average in this area, which isn’t the end of the world if the hit tool and approach continue to stay on course. That being said, there is some chance of his power jumping up a grade, and if you are going to bet on someone developing surprising power you are going to go with the guy with the potential plus hit tool. Again, we’re talking about an 18-year-old kid so the hit tool is no guarantee, but this profile from the scouting reports are the ones that can surprise with the pop at times. It should also be mentioned, however, that he has had shoulder problems in the past and that’s not great for power down the road.
You’ll notice above I have Yorke listed as a shortstop slash second baseman, which is honestly me being nice. While he played shortstop in high school, that is not where he is going to be in the majors. Even Toboni acknowledged that the most likely future position for Yorke is at second base. This isn’t because of his ability to move around on the infield, to be fair. Yorke has the instincts, quick twitch and athleticism to play the middle infield. Instead, the issue comes down to the arm and the aforementioned shoulder issues. After a surgery his junior year of high school, Yorke’s arm strength has not returned and it doesn’t appear it’ll recover to the point where he’ll be able to play on the left side of the infield.
- Every report you see on Yorke indicates that his makeup is off the charts.
- Chaim Bloom said after the draft that he was very confident that, if there was baseball this spring, Yorke would’ve moved up draft boards far beyond where he was in rankings right now. For what it’s worth, this was backed up in this Athletic piece as well.
- There were some rumors immediately after the pick that the Red Sox may be punting this selection, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems they have a deal and it will be fairly significantly under slot.
- This pick was strange, but the strategy here is important to note. The under slot deal means the Red Sox will spend that money later on players who fell to rounds three through five. I’ll have more on the merits on this strategy later this morning, but the main takeaway is that this pick can’t be fully judged until we see what happens with the team’s other three picks.
- Baseball America had an interesting article using a language processing program to compare draft prospects to former prospects. Yorke made that list, and got an interesting comp to Cavan Biggio, among others.