Red Sox Prospects: Insight into first-round draft pick Nick Yorke
By Kaizad Irani
The Red Sox drafted a sleeper in the first round of the MLB draft.
One of the newest players in the Boston Red Sox organization came as a surprise to many fans. With the 17th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Red Sox selected Nick Yorke, an 18-year-old shortstop from Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, Calif.).
The team is counting on their sleeper pick, who was ranked No. 139 by MLB Pipeline in their top 200 draft prospects, to become their next power hitter.
Yorke’s offensive ability is what likely impressed Red Sox scouts. Despite a shoulder injury during his junior year that kept him off the field, Yorke still contributed as a designated hitter. The six-foot, 200 pound batter finished his last season with a .505 batting average and led the league with 40 RBIs.
In 94 career games, Yorke had a .457 batting average along with 134 hits, 100 runs, and 77 RBIs. According to JJ. Cooper of Baseball America, Yorke is “one of the best pure hitters on the West Coast thanks to a well-balanced swing and excellent timing.” MLB Pipeline ranked his hitting above average, giving him a score of 55 out of 80.
The Red Sox had been following Yorke for a couple years prior to the draft. Amateur scouting director Paul Toboni and area scout Josh Labandeira connected with Yorke during his sophomore summer and worked out with him last winter. In an interview after the selection, Toboni commented that if Yorke played this past spring, he would have likely been a higher ranked prospect. Toboni also compared Yorke’s profile to former Red Sox three-time All Star infielder, Kevin Youkilis.
"“(Yorke) has got kind of that kind of rugged, advanced hit tool,” Toboni emphasized. “We think he’s going to get power. (Youkilis’) type of offensive profile, but different that he can play in the middle of the field.”"
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke highly of Yorke and is “optimistic” that they will be able to sign him. Currently, Yorke is committed to play at the University of Arizona.
Along with Yorke’s skill set, the draft pick makes financial sense for the Red Sox. Per MLB rules, the team only had $5,129,900 available to sign all their draft picks this year due to them losing their second-round pick following the 2018 sign stealing investigation. Yorke will likely sign with the Red Sox for a below slot deal, meaning the organization can offer more money towards later picks. Their strategy focuses on depth and more flexibility in the later rounds of the draft.
In 2012, the Houston Astros employed a similar draft tactic to the one of the Red Sox by drafting Carlos Correa with their first-round pick and signing him below the slot value. This allowed them to sign Lance McCullers later in the draft with an over slot deal, resulting in the Astros picking up two future All-Star players.
On the other hand, the Red Sox may have been overly confident in Yorke’s ability. We don’t know if his shoulder injury will come back to haunt him in the future and he may have to play second base. If he does, he will have to compete with higher ranked prospects, including Jeter Downs and Cameron Cannon.
Yorke is another good addition to the Red Sox farm system, but they still don’t have any star talent. The organization had the opportunity to pick up higher ranked players, including outfielders Garrett Mitchell and Pete Crow-Armstrong, who were ranked 6 and 20 by MLB Pipeline, respectively. The Red Sox might have passed up on a future superstar.
In the third round, the Red Sox selected Blaze Jordan, a 17-year older infielder committed to Mississippi State. Jordan is another young power-hitter with a lot of upside. He won the High School Home Run Derby last year during All-Star week and became internet viral for hitting 500-foot home runs when he was just 15 years old. Unlike most teams, the Red Sox might be able to spend more money (thanks to Yorke) in attracting him to skip college and sign with the organization.
It will take years before we realize whether the Red Sox draft strategy worked or not. Yorke and Jordan could become the team’s next power hitters. Or, perhaps Bloom might have gambled a little too much during his first draft with the team.