The first day of the MLB Draft is in the books, and the Red Sox have made their selection of Nick Yorke. We’ve been over the different angles of this selection, including a quick overview, a deeper dive, and a look at the strategy that led to this pick being made. The one part that we have yet to look at is where Yorke fits in the Red Sox farm system. There are two ways to look at this. The first is where he plays and what level he would play at if there was baseball in 2020. Then, there is the ranking question that is probably much more interesting.
Let’s just quickly tackle the first part of this, however. Yorke is a second base prospect, which traditionally is not really a position filled with top prospects but one where the Red Sox do have a couple of notable names. The first of which is Jeter Downs, who still plays some shortstop though most expect him to be the second baseman of the future after coming over in the Mookie Betts trade earlier this year. Then there is Cameron Cannon, who was a similarly ranked player in last year’s draft. (Cannon was 94th on Baseball America’s list, Yorke was 96th. The former was much more highly ranked by FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline, though.)
Both of those players are higher up the ladder than where Yorke would expect to be. In a normal year, I would expect him to spend most of the summer on the complex in the GCL with maybe a taste of Lowell coming his way for the end of the year. Then, assuming things didn’t go overly poorly, my expectation would be for him to go to Greenville for 2021, putting him on track to form a middle infield combination with last year’s second round pick, Matthew Lugo. This also puts Antoni Flores in an interesting position as a middle infielder on a similar track. Of course, trades could clear up any log jams that did come up. Without baseball this year, though, I really have no idea what that does for the timeline of anyone, but for Yorke specifically I’d guess that means he’s in Lowell for 2021.
As far as the rankings, I think that is a more interesting but also a more difficult question to answer. For this kind of exercise, I would be of the opinion that talking about things in tiers rather than straight one-by-one rankings is more helpful. To me, there are a few clear tiers that would be ahead of Yorke without having to think much about it. Those tiers would go as follows, with names in no strict order within tiers:
Triston Casas, Jeter Downs
Bobby Dalbec, Bryan Mata
Noah Song, Jay Groome, Jarren Duran, Gilberto Jimenez
Thad Ward, Tanner Houck, C.J. Chatham
That clears out the top eleven before I would even think about finding a spot for Yorke. Now is the point where I think he comes up in conversation, though. To me, he belongs in the next tier, which is a pretty long one, but finding the exact spot is not an easy task. While pointing out that I reserve the right to change my mind, I think this is where I would place him right now as a rough, initial ranking:
12. Chris Murphy
13. Matthew Lugo
14. Nick Decker
15. Nick Yorke
16. Connor Wong
Again, this is subject to change as we learn more and hear more and see more from Yorke, but right now he is right in the middle of that big group of prospects in the 12-20 range for me. What say you?