Nick Yorke

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
14,467
2020 first round pick infielder Nick Yorke, aka "They drafted WHO in the first round?!?!"

The Athletic has a good profile of Yorke:
https://theathletic.com/2420940/2021/03/02/red-sox-nick-yorke-draft/
The Red Sox shocked the baseball world in June when they selected Yorke with the 17th overall pick. Though he had been recognized as one of the best California high school hitters in the draft, the industry consensus was that he’d land somewhere from the second to fourth rounds. Yorke had shoulder surgery after his sophomore year in 2019 and spent his junior year at designated hitter. He returned to the field for the start of his senior season at Archbishop Mitty. He played just five games, collecting eight hits, including two homers and a double, before the pandemic shut everything down.

To say that prospect-watchers were surprised would be an understatement.

The Athletic’s Keith Law didn’t have Yorke among his top 100 prospects, MLB.com had Yorke as its No. 137 prospect in the draft and Baseball America placed him at No. 99. When the Red Sox made their pick, some of MLB Network commentators broadcasting the draft live were speechless.

“He’s taken a lot of criticism and he hasn’t even had a chance to prove himself,” said Labandeira. “I felt like the draft day for him, a day that should have been really special, a couple guys on TV didn’t make it very special.”

Bloom was steadfastly confident in his evaluators.

“I think our scouting staff gets a lot of credit getting to know Nick really well and having a longstanding relationship with him, and so I think the missed spring didn’t affect our perception of him as much as it might have otherwise,” Bloom said the night they selected Yorke. “This staff has a tremendous track record with high school hitters and so does our player development staff and getting the most out of them. So when there was the type of conviction on his bat that we had in Nick’s, it was something we felt we needed to act on.”
The article highlights Yorke's work ethic, and notes he had a batting cage in his backyard growing up:
The Yorke family built a batting cage in their backyard when Yorke was in eighth grade, so Nick would join Zachary in the backyard for another round of hitting in the afternoon.
“You don’t hit the way he hits unless you have a cage in your backyard,” Labandeira said. “I’m surprised his bedroom isn’t in that cage.”
Yorke joined the Red Sox alternate site in Pawtucket last summer after some other prospects moved up:
Yorke impressed, holding his own in the intrasquad games against advanced Red Sox pitchers like Bryan Mata, who features a 98-mph fastball.

“It was completely different. I remember that first pitch he threw me, he threw for a ball, but I was like, ‘I didn’t know a ball could move like that.’” Yorke said at the time. “So, then I put on the batting gloves and just tried to compete, put a barrel on a ball and do the work.”

In his first six plate appearances, he went 3-for-4 with two walks, two doubles and a single.

Yorke played most of his high school career at shortstop, but the Red Sox have opted to transition him to second, in part as a result of the shoulder surgery two years ago. Over the six weeks in the instructional league, Yorke worked every day with Fox on the intricacies of the position: arm angles, footwork, glove positioning, getting the ball out quicker, and turning double plays from a different side. They are all things that seem like easy adjustments, but ingraining them so that it becomes muscle memory is key to excelling at the position.

“He really did a good job of catching the ball, his fundamentals were actually pretty good for a high school kid, so building off of that,” Fox said.
Yorke has apparently dropped 25 pounds since last year:
By early February, Yorke had dropped 25 pounds, becoming leaner but still maintaining his strength.

“I think the more impressive thing was the shape that he was in,” Fox said. “He really put in some good work in the offseason as far as physically, kind of leaned down in a strong way, and was moving so much better, so that was really refreshing.”

Yorke will likely get into a few more big-league games this spring and then remain in Fort Myers once the Red Sox head north and minor-league camp begins in April. He’ll most likely break camp with Single-A Salem.
Here's his first professional at-bat, the other day against the Twins.

"One of the best relievers in baseball last year vs. a kid out of HS that has never has a minor league at-bat:":
View: https://twitter.com/redsoxstats/status/1366479801691815939?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1366479801691815939%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Ftheathletic.com%2F2420940%2F2021%2F03%2F02%2Fred-sox-nick-yorke-draft%2F
 

ColdSoxPack

lurker
Jul 14, 2005
981
Simi Valley, CA
Great story. Nothing not to like about this kid. And he got a hit in his first spring training at bat. Didn't see the game today so not sure if he played again.

P.S. He walked
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
19,711
I read stuff like that, and I wonder if, for kids like this, *not* playing games and instead just having what amounts to all-day coaching clinics, might actually be better for development. (or at least not worse).
 

DeadlySplitter

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 20, 2015
23,193
He has the makeup for sure. The big detraction is he's 18 and already ruled out of SS I think, all the upside is in the bat. Ceiling is Pedroia I'd think?
 

nighthob

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
9,957
I think he was ruled off SS due to the shoulder injury and ensuing arm strength. Not the glove per se.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 11, 2007
2,924
He does seem small... and I get the worry in that it seems good/great 2B tend to start out as SS or 3B and end up at 2B rather than just starting there due to not being able to handle the other positions at younger ages.
Off the top of my head, I can't think of any 2B that came into and up through the minors as exclusive 2B.
That said.... everything I've read about this kid is pretty exciting. It also just hit me that the newest kids in the system are all born after 2000.
 

thehitcat

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 25, 2003
2,034
Windham, ME
Pedroia was a SS in his pre-Professional days as well and while he didn't end up with the arm to stay his arm translated as above average at 2nd so I hope for the best while we enjoy watching the kid grow up.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
53,321
Off the top of my head, I can't think of any 2B that came into and up through the minors as exclusive 2B.
Roberto Alomar and Ryne Sandberg were the two I looked up, both were basically exclusively 2B in the bigs, Alomar never really played anywhere else in the minors and Sandberg played a bit of SS.
 

sean1562

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 17, 2011
3,152
Downs is 23 in July while Yorke is 19 in a month. If Yorke is anywhere near the majors in the next three years then we can worry about the transition from Downs to Yorke. Who knows if Downs is ever a successful major leaguer?