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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Nick Yorke aims to prove the critics wrong

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The surprise first rounder has already made big impressions.

Nick Yorke
Kelly O’Connor

And thus ends the run on pitchers in our top prospect voting, at least for the time being. We had just had our fifth straight pitcher make our list last time around, and six of our last seven made their living on the mound. Now, we’re back to the position players with one of the newest members of the organization. That would be Nick Yorke, who ran away with the 13th spot on our list by snagging 63 percent of the vote.

Yorke was not really on too many radars heading into the 2020 draft season, at least not as a first round pick or top-tier prep player. He was certainly seen as a good player with a strong hit tool who organizations would be happy to have in their organization — I think some of the retrospect has made it sound as if he was completely off the board, which is simply not the case — but at least public rankings had him more as a late second or third round selection. And so it was probably the biggest shock of the draft when the Red Sox grabbed the young second baseman from the Bay Area with their first round selection.

Now, we do need to mention that part of this decision was about gaming the draft system a bit and signing an underslot player early in order to go overslot later. This is not a novel concept, and probably the most famous recent example would the Astros taking Carlos Correa with the first overall pick and then using the money saved to draft Lance McCullers Jr. later. The Red Sox couldn’t be that cute because they didn’t pick number one overall nor did they have a second round pick due to sign-stealing penalties, but they ended up saving money with the Yorke pick and using it to draft Blaze Jordan in the third.

So that was definitely part of it, but at the same time we should not discount the simple fact that the Red Sox liked Yorke the player, liked Yorke the human, and believed in him as a prospect. The belief in the organization — and, it should be noted, in some other organizations as well — is that he would have made his way higher up draft boards had the amateur season not been wiped out last spring. The benefit of money saved for a higher-value player later in the draft is not nothing, but they wouldn’t have made the pick if they didn’t believe in Yorke.

And even with him not getting a chance to make his pro debut in 2020, we’ve already seen signs of this. Just a couple of months after being drafted, and still only 18 years old, the Red Sox invited their newest first round pick to the Alternate Site for the closing days in Pawtucket. It obviously wasn’t organized games, nor was he down there for a ton of time, but he made a big impression despite his age. He showed poise and an approach at the plate, both well beyond his years, that stood out to players and coaches alike. After also looking good at Instructs down in Fort Myers, the Red Sox had seen enough to invite him to big-league camp, no small feat given the new rules limiting roster size this spring. He’s once again looked much more advanced than his age in the short stints we’ve seen him in game action.

In terms of scouting, there is plenty to like with the young second baseman, and the makeup alluded to above is part of it. Those around him believe he is the type of prospect who can get the most out of his skillset. And he does have those skills, too, with a good approach at the plate to go with a strong hit tool that should produce singles and doubles all over the field. Defensively, he has the base tools to be a good second baseman, with strong footwork, good instincts and quick hands.

We do have to mention some negatives, though, and some of the reasons that it was such a surprise to many to see him go so high. Yorke was a shortstop in high school, but had undergone shoulder surgery his junior year that took some of that arm strength and will likely keep him on the right side of the diamond. At the plate, there’s not a whole lot of power, either. I wouldn’t expect him to be a slap hitter or anything, but he’s going to be a hit tool over power kind of player. That’s fine — just aesthetically speaking, that’s what I personally prefer — but it provides a thinner margin of error. A second base-only player with limited power doesn’t have a whole lot of wiggle room for things to go wrong.

That said, the Red Sox are big believers in Yorke and he’s done nothing in his short time with the organization thus far to sway that opinion. When the minor-league season does get going, I’d expect him to start his career down in Salem in Low-A full-season ball. Despite being a year out of high school, though, the makeup gives him a chance to be pushed a little bit more quickly than we may be used to from prep draftees.

Here is our list thus far:

  1. Triston Casas
  2. Jeter Downs
  3. Bryan Mata
  4. Jarren Duran
  5. Gilberto Jimenez
  6. Noah Song
  7. Bobby Dalbec
  8. Tanner Houck
  9. Connor Seabold
  10. Aldo Ramirez
  11. Thad Ward
  12. Jay Groome
  13. Nick Yorke

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number ten prospect. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...