Alex Cora has long been impressed with what he has seen from Nick Yorke since Yorke, then 18, was the youngest player at major-league spring training earlier this year.
So, when Yorke, now 19, was named the organization’s minor-league Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after completing just his first full professional season, that did not come as much of a surprise to the Red Sox manager.
“The way he hacks, the way he goes about his business, it’s very impressive,” Cora said before Wednesday’s game against the Mets at Fenway Park. “As you guys know, I have a daughter (Camila) who is around the same age, and just to think about the way he carried himself in the clubhouse, with adults — it was eye-opening. “
After being reassigned to minor-league camp in March, Yorke later opened the 2021 campaign with Low-A Salem. The 2020 first-round draft pick out of Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.) got off to a slow start at the plate before turning a corner beginning in June.
From June 1 on, Yorke slashed a sizzling .373/.467/.608 (185 wRC+) with 12 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, 50 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 26 strikeouts over his final 55 games (255 plate appearances) with Salem before earning a promotion to High-A Greenville in late August.
Yorke’s production did not drop off following his promotion, though, as the right-handed hitting second baseman continued to light it up at the plate by batting .333/.406/.571 (158 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts in 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive before their season ended on Sunday.
“What he did is what he expects,” Cora said of Yorke. “I told [MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith] that in spring training, he’d get mad when he made an out. So his expectations are great. He’s in-tune with the game. He understands the offensive part of it. You got to run the bases, you got to play defense — he knows that. He was a sponge the whole time.”
Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, was among the youngest position players to appear in a game at the High-A level this season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox farm system and the No. 63 prospect in all of baseball.
The 6-foot, 200 pounder out of California will presumably take part in Boston’s fall instructional league that begins next month and will likely receive another invite to big-league spring training come February 2022.
“We’re very pleased with the way he went about it this year,” said Cora in regards to Yorke’s 2021 season. “And we’re looking forward for him to keep getting better and get him here as soon as possible to contribute.”
(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)