The two pitching prospects the Red Sox selected in last year’s amateur draft certainly showed out for their respective affiliates on Thursday night.
Jeremy Wu-Yelland, taken by the Sox in the fourth round out of the University of Hawaii, and Shane Drohan, taken in the fifth round out of Florida State University, each struck out a season-high of nine batters in their starts — which took place at the same time, but approximately 260 miles away from one another.
Wu-Yelland, who was just promoted to High-A Greenville earlier in the day, made his debut for the Drive a memorable one by tossing five scoreless, no-hit innings against the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) at Fluor Field.
In addition to not allowing a run or hit, the left-hander worked his way around four walks and a hit batsman while striking out those nine batters.
Two of those four walks — and the HBP — issued by Wu-Yelland came in consecutive order to begin things in the top half of the third inning, thus loading the bases with no outs for Asheville.
The 22-year-old southpaw did not buckle under the pressure, however, and instead locked in by punching out Freudis Nova on three pitches before getting Shay Whitcomb to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
From there, Wu-Yelland struck out the side for the second time in the fourth and followed that up by retiring the final three hitters he faced in the fifth to end his outing on an encouraging note.
Of the 72 pitches Wu-Yelland threw on Thursday, 43 went for strikes. Six of his strikeouts were swinging, two were looking, and one was on a foul tip.
The Greenville bullpen took over for Wu-Yelland in the sixth and ensured that the lefty’s efforts would not go to waste as relievers Jose Espada, Oddanier Mosqueda, and Jacob Wallace saw the combined no-hit bid through to its completion.
In helping the Drive throw their fourth no-hitter in team history, Wu-Yelland was able to earn his first victory at the High-A level in his very first start there.
Prior to getting promoted on Thursday, the Seattle-area native had spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, where he had posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP to go along with 77 strikeouts to 36 walks over 20 starts spanning 67 innings pitched.
Listed at an imposing 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wu-Yelland — who was signed as a junior out of Hawaii by J.J. Altobelli — is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 12th among pitchers in the organization.
Per his Baseball America scouting report, Wu-Yelland “is one of the most explosive, powerful pitchers in Boston’s system” as he operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-octane fastball, a slider, and a changeup.
30 picks after taking Wu-Yelland in the fourth round of last summer’s draft, the Red Sox selected a fellow left-hander in the fifth round in the form of Drohan, who was also sharp for Low-A Salem on Thursday in the first game of their seven-inning doubleheader against the Fredericksburg Nationals at Haley Toyota Field.
Over five quality innings of work, Drohan surrendered just one earned run while scattering just four hits and no walks with a season-high nine strikeouts on the night.
Drohan, also 22, faced all of 14 batters — just two over the minimum — through his first four frames, but ran into some trouble in the top half of the fifth when he yielded back-to-back one out doubles to Jaden Fein and Jose Sanchez, resulting in Fredericksburg plating their first run.
A wild pitch allowed Sanchez to move up to third, though Drohan managed to strand him there by sitting down the final two hitters he faced to retire the side in the fifth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (53 strikes), the Florida State product was able to pick up his sixth winning decision of the season while also lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.89.
Through 20 starts with Salem now, Drohan has pitched to the tune of a 3.89 ERA, a .241 batting average against, and a 1.40 WHIP to go along with 75 strikeouts to 40 walks in 78 2/3 total innings of work.
A former 23-round draft pick of the Phillies out of high school who opted to honor his commitment to Florida State in 2017, Drohan is not regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system.
The 6-foot-3, 195 pound Florida native is, however, regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 32 prospect in the Red Sox organization, as his pitch arsenal is currently comprised of a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and 80-83 mph changeup.
Both Wu-Yelland and Drohan can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after the 2023 season, so there is no rush for the Red Sox to add either hurler to their 40-man roster at the moment.
(Picture of Jeremy Wu-Yelland: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)