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Scouting report: Nick Yorke of the Red Sox

Boston's 2020 first-round pick has talent, confidence to match
Nick Yorke is off to a strong start in his first season as a professional with Low-A Salem. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)
July 13, 2021's Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at eighth-ranked Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.'s Scouting Report series spotlights players who are just starting their professional careers, focusing on what the experts are projecting for these young phenoms. Here's a look at eighth-ranked Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.

One of the bigger surprises of the 2020 Draft came courtesy of the Red Sox, who selected Nick Yorke with the 17th pick. The Archbishop Mitty High School product was considered one of the best prep hitters on the West Coast, but his early selection did raise eyebrows. York was ranked the 139th-best prospect entering the Draft but that did not deter Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who destroyed mock drafts everywhere in his first year at the helm.

“We love this kid’s bat,” Bloom told “We think he has a chance to be a special bat who is going to play the infield. We feel that if the spring had gotten to play out the way it would have in a normal year the public perception of him would have been a lot different."

A shoulder injury during his junior year in 2019 relegated York to designated hitter duties and eventually required surgery. The 6-foot, 200-pounder still batted .505 with 40 RBIs. Despite playing just five games before COVID-19 canceled the remainder of his 2020 season, Yorke finished his amateur career batting .457/.552/.709 with 134 hits, including 49 extra-base knocks, 100 runs and 77 RBIs in 94 games.

The middle infielder already had committed to Arizona State, but Boston had cultivated a relationship with Yorke and it played into the decision to draft him.

"I think our scouting staff is getting a lot of credit of 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 Red Sox have a history of selecting high school players and that culture led Yorke to sign a professional contract instead of attending college.

“Historically they’re great with younger hitters, and it’s a blue-collar type of program,” Yorke told “I’m kind of that way. We have the garage setup with weight equipment. It’s really exciting just because our ways of playing kind of fit each other perfectly.”

Like many of last year's first-round Draft picks, Yorke was extended an invitation to big league Spring Training. Playing with Major Leaguers a month shy of his 19th birthday, the No. 8 Red Sox prospect held his own, batting .231/.375/.308 with three walks in 16 plate appearances. His performance, work ethic and demeanor were affirmations of sorts for the front office that drafted him and also impressed manager Alex Cora.

"It's funny, because I told him before the game, 'Hey, you're playing second base,'" Cora told in March. "He's like, 'OK, cool.' I asked him, 'Are you nervous?' He was like, 'Nope.' I'm like, 'OK, good for you.' Probably I was more nervous for him. That's a good sign."

Yorke's success has carried over into his first Minor League campaign, but not without an adjustment period. Assigned to Low-A Salem to begin his career, MLB's ninth-ranked second-base prospect batted .195 in May but has hit .375 since. Overall, Yorke has compiled a slash line of .295/.382/.409 with 13 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs and nine stolen bases through 46 games.

So far, so good.

“Personally, I felt like I was a first-rounder,” Yorke said. “I know a lot of rankings and sites didn’t have me there. But personally I’m more of a blue collar, put-your-head-down, go-to-work kind of guy. ... Wherever I played ball, I played my hardest and the Red Sox fortunately saw me at one of those times and the rest is what just happened.”

Here's what the experts at MLB Pipeline have to say about Yorke:

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

HIT: 55
RUN: 45
ARM: 45

"Yorke was the biggest surprise in the first round of the 2020 Draft, though some clubs regarded him as the best high school hitter on the West Coast. He was difficult to evaluate because shoulder surgery before his junior season in 2019 relegated him to DH duty that spring and limited him on the showcase circuit, and because the coronavirus shutdown meant he played just five games in 2020. But the Red Sox saw enough to believe that he can become an elite hitter, so they selected him 17th overall and signed him for an under-slot $2.7 million.

Yorke has a pretty right-handed swing and advanced plate discipline and pitch recognition. He hits the ball to all fields with authority and while most of his over-the-fence power presently comes to his pull side, he's adding strength and could develop into a .300 hitter who produces 20 homers annually. He joined Boston's alternate training site toward the end of the summer and though he was the youngest player there and had no pro experience, he didn't look out of place and reached base in five of his first six plate appearances, including a double off big leaguer Matt Hall.

A shortstop before he injured his shoulder, Yorke has the hands and instincts for that position but his fringy to average speed limits his range. His arm also hasn't come all the way back yet, another reason that second base appears to be his best fit. If he hits like the Red Sox believe he can, his bat will profile at a number of positions."

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.