Who is Brian Van Belle? Red Sox pitching prospect walked just 3.9% of the batters he faced with High-A Greenville in 2021

Brian Van Belle was one of the top college seniors who did not hear his name called in the pandemic-shortened 2020 amateur draft, so it did not take long for the University of Miami right-hander to land with a Major League Baseball team.

Just five days after the conclusion of the 2020 draft, Van Belle officially signed with the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. native received a modest $20,000 signing bonus that summer and proceeded to impress the club at fall instructors in Fort Myers.

Following his first minor-league spring training, Van Belle broke camp and spent the entirety of the 2021 season with High-A Greenville. In 18 starts for the Drive, the 25-year-old posted a 4.10 ERA and 4.23 FIP to go along with 82 strikeouts to just 13 walks over 79 innings pitched. It should be mentioned that he missed three weeks of action while on the injured list from August 19 through September 9.

On paper, a 4.10 ERA might not exactly jump off the page. In Van Belle’s case, however, there was a stretch over the summer when the righty was arguably one of the best starting pitchers in the lower-minors.

In four outings last July, Van Belle went 3-0 while not allowing a single run. He struck out 24 of the 84 batters he faced and walked just four of them across 22 innings of work en route to being named the High-A East Pitcher of the Month and the Red Sox’ Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month.

All told, Van Belle was one of 32 hurlers in the High-A East who accrued at least 70 innings on the mound last year. Among that group, the former Hurricane ranked 10th in ERA, 12th in FIP, second in walks per nine innings (1.48), and second in walk rate (3.9%), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Van Belle has a repeatable delivery and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 93 mph, an 82-85 mph changeup, and a 77-80 mph curveball that is considered to be a “work in progress,” according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report. As indicated by his low walk rate, his command is what makes him stick out.

Van Belle, who turns 26 in September, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system. That said, he is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season in Double-A Portland’s starting rotation and should get more exposure there as he looks to build off a solid debut campaign.

(Picture of Brian Van Belle via the Greenville Drive’s Twitter)

Red Sox power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan could be ready to break out in 2022

Is Red Sox prospect Blaze Jordan primed to break out in 2022? The experts at MLB.com seem to think so.

Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline published an article in which three writers — William Boor, Jim Callis, and Sam Dykstra — picked one potential breakout candidate from each team’s farm system.

For the Red Sox, that turned out to be Jordan, the club’s third-round selection in the 2020 amateur draft who just completed his first full season as a pro in 2021.

After breaking minor-league spring training with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox, Jordan got his 2021 campaign off to a blazing start.

The right-handed hitting corner infielder slashed a blistering .362/.408/.667 (170 wRC+) to go along with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 13 strikeouts over 19 games (76 plate appearances) in the FCL before earning a promotion to Low-A Salem in early August.

It took quite a while for Jordan to debut for Salem, but the then-18-year-old made his first appearance for the Red Sox on Aug. 19. One of the youngest position players at the Low-A level, he proceeded to slash .250/.289/.444 (95 wRC+) one double, two homers, seven RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, and eight strikeouts across nine games spanning 38 plate appearances. A trip to the injured list prematurely ended his season in early September.

Defensively, Jordan logged 41 innings at first base and 146 2/3 innings at third base between the complex league and Low-A last year. The native Mississippian committed a total of two errors at the hot corner but did not make any miscues at first base.

Jordan, who turned 19 last month, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among position players in the organization.

In November, Baseball America identified Jordan as the best power hitter in the Sox’ system, citing that the 6-foot-2, 220 pounder’s “plus-plus [70-grade] power is a show-stopper. He hits towering home runs to all fields and gets to his power even with a disconnect in his upper and lower halves that should get smoothed out over time. Though he lacks any real semblance of an approach, he sees the ball well, allowing him to remain more controlled in the batter’s box than might be expected.”  

Since he reclassified in high school to graduate a year early and enter the draft sooner than expected, Jordan is still relatively young for a prospect who is entering his third year of pro ball. Along those same lines, the one-time Mississippi State commit is projected by SoxProspects.com to open the 2022 season where he left off in September: Salem.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Nick Yorke recognized by MLB Pipeline as Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021

To nobody’s surprise, Nick Yorke was recently recognized by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021.

Boston’s top pick — and 17th overall selection — in last year’s amateur draft, Yorke made a strong impression at major-league camp this spring before beginning the minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

After initially getting off to a slow start, Yorke wound up slashing an impressive .323/.413/.500 to go along with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) with the Salem Sox.

Around the same time he was named the Low-A East Player of the Month for August, Yorke earned a promotion to High-A Greenville on Aug. 24. The right-handed hitting infielder capped off his professional debut by batting .333/.406/.751 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Among all qualified hitters who played at either Low-A or High-A this year, Yorke ranked fourth in batting average (.325), ninth in on-base percentage (.412), 25th in slugging percentage (.516), 13th in OPS (.928), and 12th in wRC+ (149), per FanGraphs.

As a result of such a strong campaign at the plate between Salem and Greenville, the 19-year-old was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year in September and was recognized at Fenway Park for earning the honor.

Defensively, Yorke was used strictly as a second baseman this season and committed a total of nine errors in 741 2/3 innings at the position. Despite there being some concerns that Yorke may not be able to stick at second base in the long-term, the Red Sox remain committed to keeping him there as he continues to develop.

“He showed how much improvement he can make in one offseason, just with his body, his athleticism, his improvements on defense,” Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Yorke when speaking with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings earlier this month. “To me, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t continue to improve and be an impact player there.”

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022. The 6-foot, 200 pound California native is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin next season where he ended this season: Greenville.

That being said, it’s certainly possible Yorke could find himself at Double-A Portland sooner rather than later next year if he gets off to a hot start come April.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Nick Yorke extends hitting streak to 18 games with first career multi-homer performance for Low-A Salem

Yairo Munoz is not the only minor-leaguer in the Red Sox organization putting together an impressive hitting streak at the moment.

While Munoz has now recorded at least one hit in a record-setting 30 straight games with a 1-for-4 showing for Triple-A Worcester on Sunday, top Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke extended his hitting streak to 18 consecutive games for Low-A Salem.

Starting at second base and batting leadoff for the Salem Red Sox as he typically does in Sunday’s series finale against the Lynchburg Hillcats at Haley Toyota Field, Yorke took the pressure off himself right away by ripping a leadoff single off right-hander Josh Wolf to begin things in the first inning.

After being stranded at first in the first, Yorke came up to the plate again with one out in the bottom of the third inning and things knotted at one run apiece.

Matched up against newly-inserted reliever Randy Labaut, Yorke — moments after his manager Luke Montz had been ejected from the game — drilled a solo home run to left-center field on the fourth pitch he saw to put his side up 2-1.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Hillcats and Red Sox had exchanged blows and were deadlocked in a 4-4 stalemate, Yorke delivered in the clutch big time, and he did so while leading off the inning.

On the seventh and final pitch he saw from righty Jacob Forrester, the right-handed hitter tattooed a towering, go-ahead homer over everything in left field to give Salem the lead again at 5-4.

Yorke’s sixth big fly of the season proved to be the game-winner for Salem, as they held on to take Sunday’s series finale over Lynchburg by that narrow one-run margin.

In completing the first multi-homer game of his young career, Yorke finished the day having gone 3-for-3 at the plate with those two home runs, two RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one stolen base while lengthening his eye-catching hitting streak to a modest 18 games.

Dating back to July 15, when his streak began, the 19-year-old has posted a gaudy .366/.459/.592 (180 wRC+) slash line to go along with three doubles, two triples, three home runs, 13 RBI, 15 runs scored, nine walks, six strikeouts, and two stolen bases over his last 18 games and 85 trips to the plate.

On the 2021 campaign — his first full professional season — as a whole, the 2020 first-round pick has batted .312/.405/.456 (138 wRC+) in addition to hitting 12 doubles, three triples, and six home runs while collecting 34 RBI, scoring 44 runs, walking 34 times, striking out 43 times, and swiping 11 bags over 65 total games (294 plate appearances) with Salem.

Among the top hitters in the Low-A East to date, Yorke ranks seventh in hits (78), 22nd in runs scored, 28th in RBI, second in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 14th in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.861), seventh in weighted on-base average (.398), and seventh in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

For Yorke, the recent run of success he has enjoyed over the last three weeks or so comes after his inaugural season as a pro got off to a rough start.

After receiving in invite to major-league spring training and breaking minor-league camp with the Salem Sox, the California native hit a measly .195/.264/.220 in the month of May.

Since the calendar flipped to June, however, Yorke flipped the switch offensively and has batted a whopping .369/.471/.571 dating back to June 1.

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among position players in the organization.

Given how well the 6-foot, 200 pound infielder has performed with Salem as of late, one has to wonder how much longer it will be until the Red Sox feel as though Yorke is ready for a promotion to High-A Greenville.

That being said, Cameron Cannon, who has been regularly patrolling second base for the Drive this season, was promoted to Double-A Portland on Monday morning, so that seemingly opens up a spot for Yorke to take over at second base with Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox promote power-hitting prospect Blaze Jordan to Low-A Salem

The Red Sox have promoted infield prospect Blaze Jordan to Low-A Salem, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Jordan, 18, began the 2021 minor-league season with the rookie-level Red Sox of the Florida Gulf Coast League and got off to a sizzling start, slashing an impressive .362/.408/.667 (169 wRC+) to go along with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 19 RBI, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, six walks, and 13 strikeouts over 19 games and 76 plate appearances.

In his final seven games with the FCL Red Sox, Jordan posted an absurd 2.000 OPS, so it appears he was ready for a new challenge.

Boston originally selected the right-handed hitting infielder with its third-round pick (89th overall) in last year’s amateur draft out of DeSoto Central High School (Miss.)

At that time, Jordan — a native of Southaven, Miss. who reclassified in order to graduate a year early — was committed to play college baseball at nearby Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox were able to sign him for $1.75 million.

Known for his raw power going back to his high school days, Jordan was unable to showcase his skills out of the gate with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though he did participate in the Sox’ fall instructional league and has since carried that over thus far in 2021.

Jordan, who does not turn 19 until late December, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system. Per his Baseball America scouting report, the young infielder ” generates his tremendous power with size and a well-synced kinetic chain that seems to transfer every drop of his frame into contact.”

In the 19 games he played with the FCL Red Sox, Jordan — listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pound — saw the majority of his playing time come at third base with a little bit of first base mixed in there as well.

It’s unclear at the moment which position Jordan will occupy more while with Salem, but he will undoubtedly become teammates and share the same infield with fellow 2020 draftee Nick Yorke, whom the Sox selected in the first round.

(Picture of Blaze Jordan: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Red Sox’ Garrett Richards impressed by the way 18-year-old prospect Nick Yorke carries himself: ‘You don’t see that very often’

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Yorke was just nine years old when Garrett Richards made his major-league debut for the Angels in August 2011.

Now 18, Yorke — the youngest player at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers — was one of a handful of hitters to face off against the veteran right-hander during a live batting practice session inside JetBlue Park on Thursday morning.

“Pretty impressed,” Richards said when asked about his thoughts on Yorke. “Not only with the talent, but with the way he carries himself. I just found out probably a few days ago that he was 18 years old. And I happened to just be walking by and that was the only sentence that I heard. He was talking to somebody and mentioned that he was 18 years old.

“Me being an older guy, it made me stop in my tracks a little bit,” added the 32-year-old hurler. “Because I had no idea this kid was that young. But very, very impressive with the maturity level and how he carries himself. You don’t see that very often. He’s obviously young and he’s going to be in this game for a lot of years. So I’m excited to watch him develop and adjust to this level of baseball.”

The Red Sox selected Yorke with their top pick in the first round the 2020 amateur draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.

The right-handed hitting second baseman — listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds — was one of 22 non-roster invitees to receive an invite to big-league spring training last month before being reassigned to minor-league camp last Friday.

Through his first four Grapefruit League contests of 2021, Yorke is 1-for-5 at the plate with a single, three walks, and two strikeouts.

Despite being the youngest player at the Fenway South complex, Yorke is holding his own, and he is impressing the likes of Red Sox manager Alex Cora while doing so.

“He’s in a better place physically,” Cora said of the California native last month. “He’s a tall, strong kid. That was impressive. I look and I’m like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ They told me and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s impressive.’”

Yorke, who turns 19 next month, is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season at Low-A Salem. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the Sox’ No. 9 prospect.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nick Yorke, the youngest player at Red Sox camp, makes solid first impression in spring debut

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Yorke was in the midst of his senior year at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose at this time one year ago.

On Monday afternoon, the 18-year-old made his spring training debut for the Sox as a defensive replacement at second base for Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth inning of a Grapefruit League contest against the Braves.

Playing the final three innings of Monday’s eventual 5-3 loss to Atlanta, Yorke got the chance to step up to the plate for the first time with one out in the bottom half of the fifth.

His opposition? Only Braves right-hander A.J. Minter, who is coming off a 2020 season in which he allowed just two earned runs over 22 relief appearances and 21 2/3 innings pitched.

Going up against that caliber of competition is no easy task, especially for a teenager who had not gotten a legitimate, in-game at-bat in well over a year.

Having said that, Yorke held his own, and after looking at and fouling off a handful of pitches, golfed a single to right-center field that found a nice patch of grass to land on.

Fast forward to the seventh, and the California native again showed discipline at the plate by drawing a walk to cap off what was an impressive 2021 debut.

“That was the highlight of the day, having that kid play,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Yorke during his postgame media availability. “It’s funny because I told him before the game, ‘Hey, you’re playing second base.’ He’s like, ‘Ok, cool.’ I asked him, ‘Are you nervous?’ He’s like, ‘Nope.’ I said, ‘Ok, good for you.’ I was probably more nervous for him, so that’s a good sign.”

Boston selected Yorke with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft last June, which at the time was viewed as a somewhat surprising selection considering the notion he was not projected to go that early.

Since then, though, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing second baseman has been turning heads on a consistent basis — whether it be at the Red Sox’ alternate training site or fall instructional league — to the point where he is entering the 2021 season as Boston’s ninth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America.

He’s also entering the 2021 season in better shape than he was in the fall, as he explained when speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon.

“In Pawtucket (alternate site) and instructs I wasn’t in the greatest shape,” Yorke explained. “Going into my first offseason, we made a goal to lose 10-15 pounds before I came back, and just focusing on that I came back and lost 25 (pounds).”

Yorke, who turns 19 in just over a month, is far and away the youngest player at Red Sox camp. While he may not be playing for a spot on the club’s Opening Day roster this spring, he is using this time to learn as much as possible by following around the likes of Enrique Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts.

“I’m working out with all the big-league infielders and just trying to be a sponge,” he said. “They’ve been in this game a lot longer than me, so I’m just trying to take what I can from them and piece this thing together.”

Cora himself echoed this same sentiment as well in regards when detailing why Yorke is at major-league spring training in the first place.

“He’s here to learn,” said the Sox skipper. “He’s here to be around big-leaguers and learn how to act in the clubhouse and be a professional, but you can see. He controlled the strike zone, controlled his at-bats.”

One thing that aided Yorke in his ability to control the strike zone and his at-bats on Monday was the fact that he did not let his nerves get to him, which is something the Red Sox coaching staff helped him with in getting him ready for in-game action.

“Once they said, ‘Play ball,’ I was ready to go,” Yorke said. “We haven’t been able to play on the field a lot the last year, so to get on the field, it’s just exciting. You get to go do what you love. I didn’t have a lot of nerves. It’s baseball at the end of the day. It’s just a game. I was just trying to go and have some fun.”

Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Yorke is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, whose season is slated to begin on May 4.

For the time being, though, Yorke is looking forward to continuing to show what he’s got under the watchful eyes of Red Sox management these next few weeks in southwest Florida.

“Any opportunity they give me to touch a baseball field, I’m going to try to run away with it,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity and just trying to get better.”

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora impressed by 18-year-old prospect Nick Yorke so far at spring training

When the Red Sox finalized their initial list of non-roster invitees that will be attending major-league spring training earlier this month, one name that stood out above the rest was infield prospect Nick Yorke.

Rarely do you see a player just months removed from being drafted receive an invite to big-league camp the following spring, but that was the case with Yorke.

Among the 70-plus players working out at the Fenway South complex right now, Yorke — who turns 19 in early April — is without a doubt the youngest of the bunch.

“It made me feel old,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Tuesday when asked about meeting Yorke for the first time. “[My daughter] Camila turns 18 in March. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is unreal.'”

Upon seeing the 2020 first-round draft pick at the batting cages the other day, Cora observed that Yorke had slimmed down a bit while still maintaining his strong, 6-foot frame.

“He’s in a better place physically. He’s a tall, strong kid. That was impressive,” said Cora. “I look and I’m like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ They told me and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s impressive.'”

Because he is at big-league camp, Yorke, a Southern California native, has the chance to absorb as much useful information as he can from the veterans he is sharing a clubhouse with for the time being.

“I asked him one question,” Cora recounted. “I go, ‘Who are you going to follow in spring training? Who’s the guy that you’re going to ask questions and follow?’ And he said, ‘Enrique Hernandez.’ I said, ‘That’s a good one. So, who else are you going to follow?’ He goes, ‘J.D. [Martinez].’ I said, ‘No, no, no. Don’t follow J.D. right now. Let’s keep it simple.’ And I said, ‘Just follow Xander. Follow Xander Bogaerts from 7 a.m. until whenever we’re done, and you’ll be in a good spot. That’s what we want from him.”

Cora acknowledged that while Yorke — the 17th overall pick in last year’s amateur draft — does have plenty of potential, he is mainly in Fort Myers right now to learn the ropes of what it takes to be a major-leaguer.

It’s a similar experience to what Bobby Dalbec did during one of the Sox’ homestands at the tail end of the 2019 season, well before the 25-year-old made his major-league debut.

Rather than getting called up to the team’s major-league roster, Dalbec spent time around the club at Fenway Park and familiarized himself with the Red Sox and the big-league environment, which surely helped him upon getting called up last August.

“It’s kind of like when Dalbec went to Fenway for a week in 2019,” the Sox skipper said when describing what Yorke is doing now. “He’s going to spend a lot of time with us, but that’s what I want him to do. Just learn, keep working, understand what it takes to be a big-leaguer, and he’ll be a big-leaguer. He’ll be a big-leaguer.”

A right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing second baseman out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Yorke is currently regarded by Baseball America as the Sox’ No. 9 prospect.

Many were shocked that Boston took Yorke, who entered last year’s draft as BA’s 96th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, as high as they did, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained that process when speaking with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall of SoxProspects.com last month.

“We knew that it would come with some blowback because Nick wasn’t a hyped player,” Bloom said on the SoxProspects.com podcast. “We also had a lot of belief in the player and there was also belief that if we had had a normal spring, he would have been seen. A lot of things kind of conspired with him having been hurt the year before and not having played the infield the year before. And if you weren’t there really all over him those first few weekends, you did not have enough information on Nick Yorke to really think anything about him.”

Despite not having a minor-league season to work with in 2020, Yorke still impressed at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and their fall instructional league in Fort Myers, which in turn led to him skyrocketing up the organization’s prospect rankings to the point where he may just be one of the best middle infield prospects in baseball heading into the 2021 campaign.

On that note, Yorke is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, whose season begins on May 4.

Between then and now, though, it should be fascinating to see if Yorke finds his way into any Grapefruit League games over the next few weeks.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Pawtucket Red S0x)

Chaim Bloom explains what went into Red Sox taking infielder Nick Yorke with top pick in 2020 MLB Draft

When the Red Sox selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the shortened 2020 MLB first-year player draft, they were met with quite a bit of blowback from fans and the general public alike.

Going into the June draft, which was cut down to five rounds due to the financial constraints created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yorke was not necessarily seen as a bona fide first-rounder.

A recent graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in the San Jose Area, the 18-year-old was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona and it appeared as though that commitment was a strong one.

With that, and perhaps other factors, in mind, Yorke slipped through the draft rankings to the point where Baseball America had him as the No. 96 draft-eligible prospect in the early stages of the summer.

While other clubs targeted more hyped-up and well-known prospects with their respective top selections, the Sox did not shy away from Yorke — a player they had already liked — when they were put on the clock at pick No. 17.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall on the SoxProspects.com podcast earlier this week.

“I think at the end of the day, what it came down to is not us trying to do something that was off the board because we got a kick out of doing something that was off the board, but believing in it and not being scared off of it just because it was different,” Bloom said. “If the only reason that we don’t do something is that we’re worried about criticism, that’s not a good enough reason. We should never operate like that. We have to be willing to do what we believe is right, even if we’re going to get criticized.

“We knew that it would come with some blowback,” continued Bloom. “Because Nick wasn’t a hyped player. We also had a lot of belief in the player and there was also belief that if we had had a normal spring, he would have been seen. A lot of things kind of conspired with him having been hurt the year before and not having played the infield the year before. And if you weren’t there really all over him those first few weekends, you did not have enough information on Nick Yorke to really think anything about him.”

Because of the aforementioned pandemic, Yorke’s senior season at Archbishop Mitty was prematurely cut short after just five games. The right-handed hitter went 8-for-15 (.533) with two home runs and six RBI in those five games, though, to finish his high school career with an otherworldly .457/.552/.709 slash line over 94 total games played at the varsity level.

Still, even if Yorke, who is listed at 6-foot and 200 lbs., was able to play a full season’s worth of high school ball in 2020, perceptions of him around the game would have still likely varied.

“We could have had a full spring and there still would have been a lot of different opinions in the industry about the player, about the profile,” said Bloom. “But, we had a really strong belief in the evaluation that we had and we went through a very rigorous process about how to build our board. And look, there’s certainly ways the draft could have fallen where we might have ended up taking someone else. It wasn’t that we were hellbent on saving money in that round to go spend it later.

“But, given what the board looked like when it got to our pick, we felt very, very clearly that it made sense to us to take Nick there,” Bloom added. “We liked the player a lot and also felt like we had some savings we could do damage with later in the draft.”

A little less than a month after drafting him, the Sox managed to sign Yorke for $2.7 million, which fell well below the recommended slot value for the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft ($3.6 million).

This, in turn, allowed the club to draft and sign fellow prep prospect Blaze Jordan, who was selected in the third round with the 89th overall pick.

With a full ride to Mississippi State University to use to his advantage, Jordan received $1.75 million in signing bonus money from Boston, well above the recommended slot value assigned to pick No. 89 ($667,900).

As you may recall, the reason the Red Sox were docked a second-round pick in last year’s draft was due to their illegal use of the video replay room during the 2018 season, hence the long wait in between their first and second selections.

“It really has to start with believing in the player,” Bloom said of Yorke, his first draft pick as Boston’s CBO. “Because it was going to be a long time before we were going to pick again, and you can’t necessarily count on what you’re going to be able to do with those savings. But, we also felt like we had enough intel — that there were enough clubs that were aligned with us on Nick — that waiting for him to be around at pick No. 89 was also not a good strategy. This was a player we wanted.”

Following impressive showings at both the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket and fall instructional league in Fort Myers last year, Yorke has worked his way up to becoming the No. 13 prospect (No. 6 among position players) in Boston’s farm system, per SoxProspects.

The Newport Beach native is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season — whenever it begins — with Low-A Salem, where he will have the chance to show off his highly-touted hit tool and continue to develop in organized games against other teams for the first time as a professional.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox Set To Kick off Fall Instructional League This Week With Bevy of Top Prospects in Attendance

The Red Sox are set to kick off their fall instructional league in Fort Myers on Monday. And according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, several of the club’s top prospects will take part in these offseason activities.

Among the 62 minor-leaguers who will report to Fenway South starting this week, several had just spent at least part of their summers at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. Those names, per Speier, include pitchers Bryan Mata and Jay Groome, infielders Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, and Hudson Potts, and outfielder Jeisson Rosario.

As for the prospects who did not receive an invite to the alternate site this season, there are right-handers Brayan Bello and Thad Ward, left-hander Chris Murphy, infielders Brainer Bonaci and Matthew Lugo, and speedy outfielder Gilberto Jimenez.

On top of that group of players, infielder Blaze Jordan and pitchers Shane Drohan and Jeremy Wu-Yelland — the rest of Boston’s 2020 draft class — are also expected to attend this offseason program that will run until November 12.

Although it is not yet clear if teams will be allowed to play games against one another due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these instructional leagues do allow the Red Sox, as well as the other 29 clubs, to get back in contact with the core of their minor-league talent.

Speaking of minor-league talent, as of September 1, the Sox had the No. 25 farm system in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

As underwhelming as that ranking may be, there appears to be optimism from within the organization that things in that developmental area are steadily improving. PawSox manager Billy McMillon opined as much when speaking with reporters this past Friday via Zoom.

“I think it’s very promising right now,” McMillon said regarding the state of the Red Sox farm system. “Some of the returns that we got back in some of the various trades and offseason acquisitions, I think that’s going to raise the level of our minor-leagues. We saw some guys develop, get a little bit better. There’s encouraging news from guys that impressed on the mound to seeing how some of the position players developed. I think the cupboard is getting full again, and I think there’s reason for optimism with some of the guys that we saw in the alternate camp.”

Expect the full list of Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be attending fall instructs to be released relatively soon.

UPDATE: Here’s the full list of the 62 Red Sox minor-leaguers who will be at full instructs, courtesy of SoxProspects.