The Red Sox draft Nick Yorke in the first round of the MLB draft.
The 18-year-old from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California is known more for his bat than his glove. His future as a middle infielder is murky after shoulder surgery robbed him of some arm strength. He might have the range and instincts to stick at shortstop if that strength returns but otherwise he’s probably an offensive-minded second baseman.
Yorke has a solid bat with a 55 Hit rate and 50 power on the 20-80 scale. His pure swing could have upside for more if his power improves as he matures.
If you’re scanning mock drafts and big boards to find Yorke’s name, keep scrolling. MLB.com’s draft prospect rankings had him at No. 139. There’s reaching for a player the organization is high on who might not still be on the board for their next pick… and then there’s this head-scratching move.
Granted, the Red Sox don’t have a second-round pick since it was stripped as punishment for the 2018 sign-stealing scandal. Their next selection will have to wait until No. 89 overall. Maybe Yorke would have been scooped up by then. Maybe. Then again, he could have been sitting there at No. 118 in the fourth round and few would have been surprised.
The shocked crew covering the broadcast on ESPN tried to make sense of the selection. The best they could manage as reassurance to Red Sox fans was pleading for us to give Yorke a chance and see how it pans out. After all, it can take years to properly evaluate baseball prospects. We don’t know that he’s a bust yet!
The speculation building on social media is that the Red Sox selected Yorke so that they could sign him for under slot value, leaving more money for their remaining picks in Rounds 3-5. Keep in mind that losing their second-round pick leaves them with less money to spend. Saving money early could allow them to find a steal late in the draft if a player falls due to signability concerns.
There is also a conspiracy theory circulating that the Red Sox punted on this pick knowing that Yorke was committed to the University of Arizona. For what it’s worth, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe poured cold water on those flames by reporting that the Red Sox expect to sign him and view him as a “special offensive player.”
If you’re an organization with a thin farm system that is desperate for some blue chip talent, you take the best talent available. It’s hard to see how Yorke fits that mold.
Chaim Bloom brings a strong track record of drafting and developing prospects from his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays. He probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. It could be years before we can fairly judge the results of this draft and perhaps Yorke will exceed expectations. Maybe the Red Sox see something that everyone else missed.
It’s too soon to say that the Red Sox blew this draft pick but it’s also hard to get excited about the selection based on what we know so far. Yorke isn’t necessarily a bad choice but he certainly is a surprising one.