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)

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking Eastlake High School shortstop Marcelo Mayer with top pick

Come this July, the Red Sox will be picking within the top five in the MLB first-year player draft for the first time since 1967, when the club took high school right-hander Mike Garman with its top pick at No. 3 overall.

Coming off a 2020 season in which they finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball, it goes without saying that the Red Sox selecting fourth in the 2021 draft will be a key moment for the franchise as they move forward under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

The draft still may be many a month away, but more and more mock drafts are starting to get released in recent weeks.

Last month, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had the Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with their top selection. And just this week, Baseball America released their ‘2021 MLB Mock Draft Version 1.0.

At No. 4, BA’s Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer.

“Many clubs believe Southern California shortstop Marcelo Mayer is the best pure hitter in the prep class, and it’s rare for that profile to last long in the draft,” Collazo writes. “In recent years, the perceived best pure high school hitters have all been selected among the top 10 picks: OF Jarred Kelenic went No. 6 to the Mets in 2018, OF Riley Greene went No. 5 to the Tigers in 2019 and OF Robert Hassell went No. 8 to the Padres in 2020. Mayer has the superior defensive profile to all those hitters, which should create a lofty realistic range for him.”

Mayer, 18, is set to graduate from Eastlake High in Chula Vista this spring. He is currently committed to play college baseball at the University of Southern California.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 lbs., Mayer hits from the left side of the plate while throwing with his right hand.

He didn’t get too much of an opportunity to showcase himself in 2020 on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he did participate in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Oklahoma City back in September.

There, according to the folks over at Prospects Live, Mayer “had a good night with a firm base hit up the middle and some impressive actions on the dirt.”

FanGraphs‘ scouting report for Mayer goes as follows:

Mayer is a graceful infield defender with a very projectable frame. His swing currently prioritizes contact. He has terrific vertical plate coverage and generates all-fields spray, but he’s also shown an ability to turn on and punish pitches inside with power. His frame is nearly identical to Izaac Pachecho’s, but Mayer has a better chance to stay at short and has more room to fill out, so he’s slightly ahead of Pacheco here.

Because the draft is still so far away, the Red Sox taking Mayer with their top selection is no sure thing, as eligible prospects are likely to see their stock rise and fall between now and July, especially with high school and college baseball still to be played in some capacity this spring.

Having said that, Mayer is someone the Red Sox are presumably quite familiar with already given the hype that has been surrounding him. It would be interesting to ask J.J. Altobelli, the team’s Southern California amateur area scout, about that.

And for what it’s worth, in Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer, Boston took another high school infielder in Nick Yorke, who also hails from California and was committed to play college ball at a Pac-12 school (Arizona).

(Top picture of Mayer: Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Baseball America: ‘Difficult to Gauge’ Who Red Sox Are Targeting With Top Draft Pick

The 2020 MLB Draft is less than two days away, and according to Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, “it’s difficult to gauge what the Red Sox are targeting” with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Collazo has the Sox taking Harvard-Westlake High School (Calif.) outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong in his latest mock draft for BA. You can read more about Crow-Armstrong here.

Crow-Armstrong, 18, was the best hitter available at the time Boston made their pick in this mock draft, but as Collazo notes, the club “could also be intrigued with college arms like Cade Cavalli or Garrett Crochet.”

Despite that possibility, it seems like the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, are locked in on targeting a prep prospect with high upside with their top pick in this year’s draft.

Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel has been a popular pick to go the Sox in other mock drafts, but some seem to believe that Bloom and Co. are headed in another direction in terms of playing position.

One of those guys is The Athletic’s Keith Law, who in a web chat from last week said there’s “zero chance” that Boston takes a high school arm in the first round. That coming a day after he wrote that he has “heard the Red Sox would like to grab one of the top high school position players with this pick, assuming the right one falls.”

Law also has Crow-Armstrong going to the Red Sox in his latest mock draft, for what it’s worth.

Whoever they wind up taking, it will be of the utmost importance that the Sox hit on their first-round selection. That being the case since they were stripped of their second-round pick due to their illegal stealing of signs in 2018, resulting in their total slot value for this year’s draft being capped at just $5,129,900.

 

 

Baseball America’s Latest 2020 MLB Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking Arizona Catcher Austin Wells With Top Pick

In his fourth and most recent 2020 mock draft for Baseball America, Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking someone that has yet to be discussed on here with the 17th overall pick. That prospect’s name?

Austin Wells, C, University of Arizona

 

Collazo writes the following about Wells:

The Red Sox have to deal with losing their second round pick as a penalty of their sign stealing. They now have a $5,129,900 to spend which ranks 26th among the 30 teams’ bonus pools. That could make it riskier to take a draft-eligible sophomore like Wells who could have a high asking price, but after the run of college hitters in front of this pick, he’s the best bat on the board and would give Boston as close to a sure thing as you could hope for in the draft in this range.

Listed at 6’2″ and 220 lbs., Wells, a former 35th round selection of the Yankees out of high school back in 2018, is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 draft-eligible prospect.

Turning 21 years old in July, the Las Vegas native who hits from the left side of the plate slashed .375/.527/.589 with two home runs and 14 RBI over 15 games for the Wildcats this year before the college baseball season was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, Wells played in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, where he posted a .308/.389/.526 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 42 games played.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wells “showed that the bat is his calling card and potentially enough in its own right to make him a first round pick in his draft-eligible sophomore season.”

Yes, Wells is just a sophomore. And as Collazo mentions above, that might make him more of a challenge to sign for the right price since he could always return to Arizona for his junior season.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox took former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon with their top pick of the second round in last year’s amateur draft, so there should already be some familiarity there with Wells even if the team is under new baseball operations leadership.

Remember, in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer, the Red Sox will have approximately $3,609,700 to work with in slot money to sign their first-round pick, whoever it may be.

Wells is the second college backstop linked to the Sox ahead of this year’s five-round draft, which will be the shortest in the sport’s history.

Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal had Boston taking North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey in a first-round mock draft from last month.