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.

Red Sox Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke Talks Alternate Training Site Life

At 18 years and 173 days old, Nick Yorke is by far the youngest player at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket. The 2020 first-round draft pick received an invite to the alternate site earlier this month and first reported to McCoy Stadium last Thursday.

Since then, Yorke has gone 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and two walks in simulated game action while also getting acclimated to a whole new level of baseball far different than what he had grown accustomed to at Archbishop Mitty High School out in San Jose.

In a brief period of time, Yorke, a west coaster, has seen his life essentially flip upside down after signing his first professional contract back in July. Even so, the right-handed hitting infielder is just glad to be playing baseball in some capacity in what has already been an unprecedented year.

“I’ve been having so much fun getting on the field again,” Yorke said when speaking with reporters via Zoom earlier Tuesday. “Competitiveness-wise, it’s just fun getting to be on the field against another pitcher and have some at-bats. So, I’ve been having a great time out here.”

One of those pitchers Yorke got the chance to face in his Pawtucket debut on Saturday was top prospect Bryan Mata, who wound up dazzling the youngster with his velocity a bit before eventually yielding an opposite-field single.

“I remember that first pitch he threw me,” Yorke said of his encounter with the 21-year-old Mata. “He threw it for a ball but I was like ‘I didn’t know a ball could move like that!’ So then I put on the batting gloves and it was time to compete, put a barrel on the ball, and let him do the work.”

While Yorke is still adjusting to this new level of baseball, he is also getting better familiarized with his peers, such as fellow prospect Triston Casas, veteran infielder Jose Peraza, and PawSox manager Billy McMillon.

“They’ve been really good about getting my feet wet,” the one-time University of Arizona commit added.” I took the first 2 – 2 1/2 days kind of just taking BP and working out with the guys. Triston Casas has been really good with me. I go and hit with him before we report everyday to come hit off the machine and get the [velocity] in before the games.”

Regarding Peraza, who was optioned to the alternate site on September 9, Yorke says the ex-Red was surprised about his age and has been one of several players with major-league experience who have doled out some wisdom or advice if needed.

“It’s amazing. I mean, they’re all so welcoming,” Yorke said of the veteran presence in Pawtucket. “I’ve tried to be a sponge. They’re really good about letting me in and showing me the ropes. I’ve had a great time with them.”

When discussing what his interactions with McMillon have been like, Yorke described the PawSox skipper as an ‘amazing’ individual.

“[McMillon’s] very funny,” he continued. “He always puts smiles on guys’ faces… and just makes transitions a lot easier, introducing myself to new guys through Billy and whatnot. He’s been great with me.”

Yorke, as well as the other 32 or so players in Pawtucket, will presumably continue their workouts at McCoy through the end of the 2020 major-league season this coming Sunday. From there, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox are planning to invite about 60 players to a fall training camp in Fort Myers. The California native could very well be one of those 60 players who receive an invite. We will have to wait and see on that.

Red Sox Sign Fifth-Round Draft Pick Shane Drohan for $600,000

The Red Sox have signed fifth-round draft pick Shane Drohan, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, Drohan, a 21-year-old left-hander out of Florida State University, signed with Boston for $600,000, which is well above the $364,400 in recommended slot value assigned to the 148th overall pick ($364,400).

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 147th-ranked draft-eligible prospect headed into this year’s draft, Drohan posted a 4.08 ERA over four starts and 17 2/3 innings pitched for the Seminoles in his junior season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the college baseball season.

Based off his SoxProspects scouting report, Drohan, a native of Fort Lauderdale, has a pitch mix that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a 77-79 mph curveball, and an 80-83 mph changeup.

By signing Drohan, the Red Sox have now inked all four of their 2020 draft picks to professional contracts.

First-rounder Nick Yorke signed for $2.7 million, third-rounder Blaze Jordan signed for $1.75 million, fourth-rounder Jeremy Wu-Yelland signed for $200,000, and as already mentioned, fifth-rounder Shane Drohan signed for $600,000.

In total, Boston spent $5.25 million in order to sign their draftees, an amount that just barely surpasses their $5,129,900 bonus pool. As noted by SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall, this means that the club will “have to pay a 75% tax on the extra $120,100” they spent on their picks.

Also worth mentioning, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, have signed 14 undrafted free agents, the most in baseball.

Red Sox Reportedly Sign Fourth-Round Draft Pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland for $200,000

The Red Sox have signed fourth-round draft pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Per Callis, the former University of Hawaii left-hander signed for $200,000, a bonus well under the recommended slot value assigned to 118th overall pick in this year’s draft ($487,900).

A 6-foot-2 southpaw out of Spokane, Wash., Wu-Yelland was the first of two college pitchers taken by Boston in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer.

The 21-year-old junior posted a nice 0.69 ERA and .200 batting average against over seven relief appearances and 13 innings pitched for the Rainbow Warriors before the 2020 college baseball season was shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 261st-ranked prospect in this year’s draft, Wu-Yelland’s pitch mix, courtesy of SoxProspects, includes a 91-95 mph fastball that can top out at 97 mph, a 79-83 mph slider, and a 81-83 mph changeup. All while the lefty throws from a three-quarters arm slot.

Upon drafting Wu-Yelland last month, Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni said the Central Valley High School product has the chance to to be a starter despite his success as a reliever in college.

“We listed him as a starter,” Toboni told reporters via Zoom. “I think there’s a chance that might be the case. Long-term, still a little bit unsure. But once again, we think the strikes are good enough. We think that he’s able to get his pitches moving in a number of unique directions. Command, I think there’s enough there right now. But we’re hoping he can take a little bit of a jump in that regard, too. Just how big of a jump he makes, which once again, we’re super optimistic, I wouldn’t rule starting out. But I think we can always fall back on the plan of being up to 97 (mph) from the left side out of the pen.”

By reportedly getting Wu-Yelland signed, the only draftee the Sox have left to sign is fifth-round selection Shane Drohan, a 21-year-old junior right-hander out of Florida State University.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston can sign Drohan for up to $479,900 without being penalized. That being the case because the club has already spent $4.65 million of their $5,129,900 bonus pool in signing first-round pick Nick Yorke, third-round pick Blaze Jordan, and now Wu-Yelland.

Only one of those signings (Yorke) have been finalized by the Sox to this point, so expect more official announcements relatively soon.

 

Red Sox Sign Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke for $2.7 Million

The Red Sox officially signed top draft pick Nick Yorke on Tuesday, per Yorke himself.

According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the 17-year-old Yorke signed with Boston for $2.7 million, which is about $900,000 below the slot value assigned to the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft.

By doing this, the Red Sox were able to sign third-round selection Blaze Jordan for $1.75 million, which is well past the 89th pick’s recommended slot value of $667,900.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 96th-ranked draft-eligible prospect ahead of this year’s draft, Yorke went as early as he did because, as Callis notes, the Sox “legitimately loved” his bat.

The prep second baseman out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs and 77 RBI over four seasons and 94 games played for the Monarchs’ varsity baseball team.

Many were surprised that Boston went in the direction of taking Yorke with their top pick, but as previously mentioned, they had legitimate reasoning to do so.

When speaking with reporters after the 2020 draft, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that Yorke “has a chance to be a special bat who is going to play the infield.”

On top of that, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni added, “We feel like if there would have been a full spring, there probably would have been industry consensus that this kid was a first-round pick.”

Yorke was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona. He will instead become a professional and will likely have to wait a while to actually start playing in organized minor-league games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On another note, as brought up by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox now have approximately $679,900 to work with to sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan.

Red Sox Draft Round-Up: How Did Chaim Bloom Fare in First Draft as Boston’s Chief Baseball Officer?

As the dust settles on the day following the completion of the shortest draft in Major League Baseball history, the Red Sox will come away with four new additions to their minor-league pipeline if all goes according to plan.

Those four new additions are prep infielders Nick Yorke and Blaze Jordan, as well as college left-handed pitchers Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan.

As part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, the Sox were docked a second-round pick in this year’s draft, which subsequently dropped their total pool money down to just $5,129,900.

Because of that, it seems that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni utilized a somewhat unconventional approach in their first draft together.

By taking Yorke, an 18-year-old second baseman out of San Jose, Calif. who was regarded by Baseball America as the 98th-ranked draft-eligible prospect, the Sox will likely be able to save quite a bit of money. That being the case because Yorke, who is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona, will presumably sign with Boston for less than the $3,609,700 slot value assigned to his draft position.

With that in mind and done with on Day 1 of the draft, Blom and Co. were able to go out and splurge with their third-round selection in first baseman/third baseman Blaze Jordan on Thursday.

The 17-year-old likely fell to the third-round because of his commitment to Mississippi State University, but the Red Sox will presumably be able to sway Baseball America’s 90th-ranked draft-eligible prospect to go pro by offering him more than the $667,900 signing bonus assigned to his draft position (No. 89).

“Getting that kind of upside at pick No. 89, it’s not normal,” Toboni said of Jordan Thursday night. “We were able to assume the risk mainly because the expected value we thought we were getting was really, really good in that area of the draft. He’s just a really exciting talent. There’s no other way to put it.”

As for the two college hurlers, Hawaii left-hander Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Florida State left-hander Shane Drohan, taken by Boston in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft, they were ranked by Baseball America as the No. 261 and No. 189 draft-eligible prospects respectively.

Wu-Yelland, who was scouted by J.J. Albotelli, has a recommended slot value of $487,9000, while Drohan, who was scouted by Dante Ricciardi, has a recommended slot value of $364,400.

The Red Sox have until August 1st to sign these four prospects, as well as any undrafted free agent they may pursue.

Some players are already reaching agreements with their new clubs, so it should not be long until we get our first reports of the Red Sox agreeing to terms with one of the four names mentioned above.

What to Expect From Red Sox on Day 2 of 2020 MLB Draft

The Red Sox surprised many Wednesday night by selecting Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.) second baseman Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft.

Yorke, who turned 18 in April, represented Boston’s lone Day One selection. Now, the Sox will make three more picks on Thursday before the shortest draft in the sport’s history comes to a close.

Led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the Red Sox, absent a second-round pick as part of their punishment for illegally stealing signs in 2018, will make picks in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of the draft Thursday evening.

Those three picks come at No. 89, No. 118, and No. 148 overall. The allotted slot values for those picks are $667,900, $487,900, and $364,400 respectively.

Because the Red Sox took Yorke, who is expected to sign for less than the $3,609,700 assigned to his draft position, it’s a very real possibility that the club on Thursday targets prospects they could sign for more than those aforementioned slot values. As a reminder, they have $5,129,900 in total pool money to work with.

Here are some of the prospects the Red Sox could go after on the final day of the 2020 draft:

The second round of the draft begins at 5 PM eastern time on MLB Network and ESPN2.

 

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.