Red Sox Take Prep Infielder Nick Yorke With 17th Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

In a surprising turn of events, the Red Sox have selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 17 overall.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 139 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, Yorke is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona.

An 18-year-old out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., Yorke is listed at 6’0″ and 200 lbs. His Baseball America scouting report from May goes as follows:

Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength.

Per his MaxPreps page, Yorke, who hits from the right side of the plate, slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI over 94 games played spanning four seasons at Mitty High.

Regarded by one Red Sox evaluator as a potentially “special offensive player,” the club does expect to sign Yorke, according to the same evaluator.

Earlier Wednesday, it was thrown out there that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could target an underslot prospect with the club’s top pick in order to allocate more money later in the draft. That being the case because Boston was stripped of their second-round pick in April as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, and the Red Sox have  $5,129,900 to work with in total pool space.

The first draft pick of the Chaim Bloom Era, Yorke represents Boston’s lone Day 1 pick. When the draft picks up again on Thursday evening, the Sox will be on the clock with the 89th, 118th, and 148th overall selections.

While Yorke weighs between going pro or honoring his commitment to the Arizona Wildcats, the Red Sox will have until August 1st to sign him.

UPDATE: According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, “the Red Sox apparently have an underslot deal done with [Yorke] that will save them ‘quite a bit of money’ according to one source.”

In other words, that would allow them to spend more on their Day 2 picks.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: Austin Hendrick

In his latest mock draft for the Baseball Prospect Journal, Dan Zielinski III has the Red Sox taking West Allegheny High School outfielder Austin Hendrick with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Hendrick, who turns 19 four days after the 2020 draft is completed, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 2 prep outfielder in this year’s class behind only Zac Veen.

The Pennsylvania native’s Baseball America’s scouting report goes as follows:

Is there a high school hitter in the 2020 class with a better hit and power combination than Hendrick? We don’t think so. The Pennsylvania product is likely a corner outfielder, but he has light tower raw power and some of the quickest bat speed scouts have seen in years.

Playing for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, the Mississippi State signee didn’t get the chance to display that power, but he did get on base quite a bit by drawing five walks and getting plunked twice over the span of eight games.

Among all the high school prospects who will make up this year’s draft class, the left-handed hitting Hendrick has the best raw power tool of the lot, according to FanGraphs. That likely makes him a very appealing target for clubs whose first-round pick fall within the top 20.

The Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, own the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft, as previously mentioned.

With that, Boston will have up to $3,609,700 in signing bonus money to spend on their first of just four selections in this year’s draft, which will go down as the shortest in the sport’s history.

Because of how limited they will be in the 2020 draft, it would not be surprising to see the Red Sox try and make a splash with their top pick. And what better way to do that than by taking one of the best high school outfielders in this year’s class? If he is still on the board, that is.

Other outfielders who have been linked to the Red Sox in first-round mock drafts include UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell, Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad, Independence High School’s Robert Hassell, and Harvard-Westlake’s Pete Crow Armstrong.

The 2020 MLB Draft, which will consist of five rounds, is just over two weeks away. Stay tuned for more coverage.

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking High School Right-Hander Mick Abel With Top Pick

In his latest mock draft for Prospects365.com, Mason McRae has the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Mick Abel with the 17th overall pick in this year’s June draft.

As we now know, the 2020 MLB Draft will be just five rounds, the shortest in the sport’s histroy, making hitting on the early picks that much more important for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and company. The club will have $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abel, an 18-year-old out of Jesuit High School in Oregon, “has touched 97 MPH at times with his fastball, but didn’t get to that regularly last summer. He also mixes in one of the better breaking balls of the amateur class, and has good feel for a changeup that could give him three plus offerings.”

Listed at 6’5″ and 190 lbs., the Oregon State University commit started two games for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, allowing four earned runs over 4 1/3 total innings of work in those appearances.

A pitching arsenal that includes a 60-grade fastball, a 55-grade slider and changeup, and a 50-grade curveball, Abel is “only going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures, something he showed a glimpse of in one outing this spring before things got shut down [due to the coronavirus pandemic],” according to MLB Pipeline.

McLean or “Mick,” is expected to be one of the first prep pitchers taken off the board in this year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see if he is still available when the Red Sox are on the clock with the No. 17 pick.

Who Could Red Sox Target in First Round of This Year’s MLB Draft?

The start date and length of the 2020 MLB first-year player draft may both be unknowns at this point in time, but that’s not stopping clubs from doing their due diligence ahead of the annual amateur selection process.

After not having any first-round picks last year due to luxury tax-related penalties from 2018, the Red Sox are slated to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft. That being the case because at 84-78, Boston finished with the 17th-worst record in baseball last season.

According to Baseball America, the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft has an assigned slot value of approximately $3,609,700, meaning that’s how much money the Sox will have to spend on that pick, although they can go over that allotted amount if they are willing to incur some tax penalties.

Personally, I’m no draft expert, but since the 2020 MLB Draft is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to look into who Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could be targeting in the earliest stage of this year’s draft. Let’s get into it.

Target No.1: RHP Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks High School East (Doylestown, PA)

In his mock draft from April 15th, CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa had the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Nick Bitsko out of Doyleston, Pa.

Bitsko, 17, was initially set to graduate from Central Bucks High School East in 2021, but he will instead graduate early, adding on to an already impressive list of draft-eligible pitching prospects this year.

A University of Virginia commit, Bitsko posted a 1.18 ERA over six starts during his sophomore season last year, per MaxPreps.

According to a Baseball America scouting report from 2019, “Bitsko has a great pitcher’s frame, standing at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds and has a smooth and easy operation on the bump, with an overhead windup and clean three-quarter slot.”

From that same scouting report, Bitsko’s arsenal includes a 92-96 MPH fastball, a 76-83 MPH curveball, and an 86-87 MPH “firm” changeup.

If drafted by the Red Sox over the summer, Bitsko would presumably become one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the organization, although there certainly are some minor concerns given just how young he is and how he didn’t get the chance to really throw in front of scouts this year.

Target No. 2: C Patrick Bailey, North Carolina State University

Moving to the college ranks now, Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal has the Red Sox taking North Carolina State backstop Patrick Bailey in his latest first-round mock draft.

The 20-year-old out of Greensboro was drafted by the Twins in the 37th round of the 2017 draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to North Carolina State instead, and it looks like that decision is going to pay off for him.

Although he played in just 17 games for the Wolfpack this year due to the college baseball season being shut down last month, Bailey produced over the course of that small sample size, as he slashed .296/.466/.685 with six home runs and 20 RBI.

Per a March scouting report from Perfect Game USA, Bailey “has significant value as a switch-hitting catcher with pop on both sides of the plate to go along with strong defensive skills.”

If taken by the Red Sox this summer, I would guess that Bailey would slide behind Connor Wong as the second-best catching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Target No. 3: RHP Tanner Burns, Auburn University

The first college hurler on this list, My MLB Draft’s most recent 2020 mock from earlier in the month has the Red Sox taking Auburn right-hander Tanner Burns in the first round.

Another former 2017 37th-round pick, Burns was limited to just four starts and 22 1/3 innings pitched this season due to the aforementioned shutdown. In those four starts though, the 21-year dazzled by posting a 2.42 ERA and averaging nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings.

Listed at 6’1″ and 205 lbs., MLB Pipeline has Burns ranked as their No. 28 draft prospect. They describe the junior as a hurler, who “can work at 92-97 mph with his fastball and locate it to both sides of the plate. His breaking ball can be a plus pitch at times, combining slider velocity in the low 80s with curveball depth, but it gets slurvy at others. He hasn’t had much need for his changeup, though it has some sink and shows some signs of becoming an average third pitch.”

Burns also comes with some durability concerns, as he dealt with right shoulder soreness throughout the majority of his sophomore season in 2019.

Like Bitsko, Burns would presumably become one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the Sox’ farm system if he is drafted by Boston at some point this summer.

Target No. 4: LHP Garrett Crochet, University of Tennessee

Sticking with the Southeastern Conference here, Prospects Live has the Red Sox selecting University of Tennessee southpaw Garrett Crochet in their 2020 Mock Draft 2.0.

A native of Mississippi who turns 21 in June, Crochet was only able to make one start for the Volunteers this year due to upper back soreness. To add on to that, the left-hander broke his jaw last May after taking a line-drive to the face in his final start of the 2019 regular season that resulted in him missing two weeks of action.

According to a Prospects Live scouting report from Crochet’s lone outing of the 2020 campaign against Wright State in March, the junior’s pitch arsenal included a fastball that sat around 95-97 MPH and maxed out at 99 MPH, an 84-86 MPH slider, an 80-90 MPH changeup, and an 80 MPH curveball.

MLB Pipeline has Crochet ranked as their 18th-best draft-eligible prospect, so he could very well still be on the board by the time the Red Sox make their first pick at No. 17.

Target No. 5: OF Heston Kjerstad, University of Arkansas

Last but not least, we have the lone outfielder on this list in the University of Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad, who Perfect Game USA’s Brian Sakowski has going to the Red Sox in the first round of his most recent 2020 mock draft from late last month.

The Amarillo, Texas native did nothing but rake in his three seasons as a Razorback, putting together a .343/.421/.590 slash line to go along with 37 home runs and 129 RBI over 150 total games dating back to 2018.

Sakowski’s scouting report for Kjerstad looks a little something like this:

The left-handed slugger has double-plus raw pop along with the bat speed and impact generation to crush balls with wood. There are some positional questions long-term, but the Red Sox have shown the willingness to take prospects with big power and figure out how to get them into the lineup later.”

MLB Pipeline has Kjerstad ranked as their 10th-best prospect in this year’s draft, so he might not even be on the board by the time the Red Sox make their first selection at No. 17, but if he is, and the Sox take him, that would be quite the addition to an already fascinating mix of outfield prospects that includes Jarren Duran, Marcus Wilson, and Gilberto Jimenez to name a few.

Well, there you have it. Five prospects the Red Sox could take with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft. If they do wind up taking one of these five young players with their first pick, you can come back here and remember that I had it first.

Also, the 17th overall pick is the lowest first-round pick the Red Sox have had since 2016, so it’s probably important that they hit on it in order to improve a poorly-regarded, but steadily-improving farm system.