The Red Sox have a trio of top prospects in a race to the big leagues
The first two drafts of the Chiam Bloom era for the Boston Red Sox have produced premium, teenage prep talent. Now, the prospect trio of Nick Yorke, Marcelo Mayer, and Blaze Jordan find themselves in a race to Fenway Park, with all three likely starting from the same place in 2022.
With Baseball America releasing their Top 20 Red Sox prospects heading into the 2022 season, as well as their updated Top 100 overall prospects in the game, Bloom’s blueprint to restock the farm system and create a pipeline of impact talent to the big league roster have been on display for all of baseball to see.
Targeting high school position prospects at the top of the draft the past two years, Bloom and the Red Sox now feature two of the top 31 overall prospects (Baseball America) as a result, and three of the top seven organizational prospects come from the 2020 and 2021 draft classes. With 2018 first-round pick, Triston Casas (#2 Organizational Prospect; #19 Overall), expected to make his MLB debut at some point in 2022, joining recent top prospects Jarren Duran and Bobby Dalbec in Boston, the prospect trio of Mayer, Yorke, and Jordan represent the next wave of minor league talent headlining the Red Sox farm system.
The most advanced of the trio from a developmental standpoint to date is Yorke. The 2020 first-round pick (#17 overall) was the first surprise of the draft that season. Projected by most draft analysts to be selected in the back half of the abbreviated 5-round draft, the Red Sox felt strongly enough about their time spent scouting Yorke to make him the first pick of the Chiam Bloom regime.
With no 2020 minor league season as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the organization assigned Yorke to Low-A Salem to start his professional career, rather that waiting for the start of the short season Florida Complex League (FCL) to start in early summer, the league that most prep draftees start out at. Yorke would reward the organization and silence the doubters with a .323 batting average and a .913 OPs in 76 games before earning a promotion to Hi-A Greenville.
Yorke’s debut season would be more impressive after the promotion, where he hit .333 with a .977 OPS in 21 games with The Drive as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. His outstanding 2021 season shot him up prospect charts, where Baseball America currently has him ranked as the game’s #31 overall prospect.
While some analysts would say the Red Sox got lucky in reaching for Yorke in the draft and getting premium production from him right away, there’s not much question that they lucked into their 2021 first-round pick. Headed into the 2021 draft, Mayer was considered the consensus top prospect in the class.
The high school shortstop from Southern California was projected to be off the board by the time Boston’s selection came around at fourth overall. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates in somewhat of a surprise took college catcher, Henry Davis, from Louisville at the top of the draft, and the top college pitcher Jack Leiter, and top prep pitcher, Jackson Jobe, followed the selection of Davis, leaving Mayer available for the Red Sox at #4 where the selected him.
The organization would get Mayer signed to a $6.6 million deal, and assigned him to the FCL to make his pro debut. The 18-year-old shortstop would go on to hit .275 with an .817 OPS, showing fluid form and advanced instincts defensively, and would finish the season ranked as the FCL’s #1 prospect. Mayer enters 2022 as the Red Sox top prospect, and Baseball America has him ranked as the #15 overall prospect in the sport.
The youngest prospect of the trio, Jordan, was selected in the third round of the 2020 draft. Jordan was well known inside amateur baseball circles, having become a viral sensation by hitting 400 foot home runs at age 11, and 500 foot shots at age 13 in high profile home run derby’s on the organized youth baseball circuit.
He was committed to play college baseball at Mississippi State before ever taking a high school at-bat, and put together a legendary prep career in his home state of Mississippi, capping his high school career as the winner of the Gatorade Mississippi High School Baseball Player of the Year. Jordan was on track to be selected in the 2021 draft, but re-classified ahead of the 2020 season to become draft eligible. As a result, Jordan was the youngest player selected in the draft when the Red Sox took him in round three in 2020.
While Jordan had been on the radar of pro scouts for a half decade prior to being drafted, his prospect status seemed solely tied to his raw power, which already rates as a plus tool. Baseball America grades Jordan’s power at a 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale), and having just turned 19, there’s potential for that tool to grow into a “double plus” 80 grade. Pitch recognition, defense, and potential for a high strikeout rate caused Jordan to slip into the third round of the draft, where the Red Sox took the gamble that they could develop him into a productive big league player with the power in his bat being too tempting to pass up. Still, he was regarded as more of a project than a sure thing.
While the Red Sox were aggressive in assigning Yorke to Low-A Salem to start his professional career in 2021, they were more cautious with Jordan, holding him back in extended Spring Training before assigning him to the Rookie League FCL in June.
Jordan would make his presence known early on, and absolutely dominated the league to the tune of a .362 batting average and a 1.075 OPS in 19 games before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem. He dealt with some injury issues but hit a respectable .250 with a .733 OPS as the youngest domestic player in the South Atlantic League to finish off the 2021 season. While Jordan’s stock is on the rise, he does not enter 2022 as one of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects.
The Red Sox now enter the 2022 season with three teenage prospects that met, and in many ways, exceeded expectations in their professional debut seasons in 2021. Depending on health and Spring Training performance there’s a chance that all three open the 2022 season at Hi-A Greenville, where the race to Fenway Park will begin for this highly touted prospect trio.
Should one or more open the season at different levels of the minor leagues, it’s highly likely that their paths will cross as they embark on their developmental journey to the Major Leagues. One thing is for sure, Red Sox fans in the towns of Greenville, Portland (ME), and Worchester will get the chance to watch the next generation of Sox stars pass through their towns on their way to Boston in the coming seasons. The only question is, which player wins the race to Fenway?