How did contingent of Red Sox prospects perform in Arizona Fall League this year?

The 2022 Arizona Fall League season came to a close over the weekend, as the Surprise Saguaros defeated the Glendale Desert Dogs by a final score of 7-6 in Saturday’s championship game at Scottsdale Stadium.

Orioles prospect Heston Kjerstad was named the league’s Most Valuable Player while Cardinals lefty Connor Thomas was named Pitcher of the Year. Colorado’s Zac Veen earned Offensive Player of the Year honors, Tampa Bay’s Evan Reifert was named Reliever of the Year, Minnesota’s Edouard Julien was named Breakout Player of the Year, San Francisco’s Luis Matos was named Defensive Player of the Year, and Oakland’s Lawrence Butler received the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award.

The Red Sox sent eight of their own minor-leaguers to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who at 13-16 finished 1 1/2 games back of a playoff spot, this fall. Although none of these players were recognized in postseason award distribution, some certainly fared better than others.

Here is a rundown of how each of these eight prospects performed over the last six-plus weeks, starting with the four pitchers who made the trek out west:

Aaron Perry, RHP

Perry, 23, made 10 relief appearances for the Scorpions. The right-hander posted a 12.46 ERA and 2.86 WHIP with four strikeouts to 10 walks over 8 2/3 innings of work. Opponents batted .395 off him.

Boston originally selected Perry in the 14th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Hurricane High School in West Virginia. Since then, the righty has been limited to 47 2/3 minor-league innings due to a number of injuries. He appeared in just three games for High-A Greenville this year.

Thad Ward, RHP

Ward, 25, made four appearances — three of which were starts — for Scottsdale. The righty suffered a left oblique strain after his second start of the fall on October 10 and was sidelined for nearly a month as a result. He returned in time to pitch in two more games and wound up posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with 15 strikeouts to six walks over 12 2/3 innings of work. Opponents batted .234 off him.

Currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in Boston’s farm system, Ward was limited to 13 minor-league starts this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. The former fifth-round selection out of the University of Central Florida can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster on Tuesday.

Jacob Webb, RHP

Webb, 23, finished in a two-way tie for the team lead in saves (3) this fall. The hard-throwing righty pitched to a 3.60 ERA and 1.30 WHIP to go along with 12 strikeouts to five walks over nine relief appearances spanning 10 innings of work. Opposing hitters batted .222 (8-for-36) off him.

The Red Sox took Webb in the 14th round of last year’s draft out of Miami University of Ohio. The 6-foot-5, 246-pound hurler pitched at three different levels this season and ended the year at Double-A Portland. He possesses a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a high-80s changeup.

Ryan Zeferjahn, RHP

Zeferjahn, 24, primarily came out of the bullpen for Scottsdale, but he also made one start. In nine total appearances, the right-hander produced a 4.80 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 18 strikeouts to eight walks over 15 innings of work. He limited opposing hitters to a .208 batting average against.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds, Zeferjahn spent the majority of the 2022 minor-league season with Greenville before being promoted to Portland in late August. The former third-round pick out of the University of Kansas posted a 5.05 ERA between the two levels and, like Ward, is Rule 5 eligible this winter.

Moving on the four position players that made up this eight-man contingent…

Wilyer Abreu, OF

Abreu, 23, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Astros in the Christian Vazquez trade. The left-handed hitter went just 9-for-54 (.167) with two doubles, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, three stolen bases, 10 walks, and 18 strikeouts in 17 games for the Scorpions this fall. He made four appearances in left field and eight appearances in right.

After closing out the minor-league season with Portland, Abreu is another minor-leaguer who can become eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Tuesday. The native Venezuelan does offer intriguing speed and possesses the ability to get on base at a respectable clip, so he has that going for him.

Niko Kavadas, 1B

Kavadas, 24, split time at first base with San Francisco’s Logan Wyatt and Atlanta’s Cade Bunnell. The left-handed hitting slugger slashed .239/.417/.435 with three doubles, two homers, six runs driven in, seven runs scored, 13 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 15 games (60 plate appearances) with the Scorpions.

The Red Sox originally selected Kavadas in the 11th round of the 2021 amateur draft out of The University of Notre Dame. The Indiana native earned Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors in his first full professional season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the 30th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Stephen Scott, C

Scott, 25, was one of two Red Sox minor-leaguers to make it to this year’s AFL Fall Stars Game. The left-handed hitter also took part in the league’s first-ever home run derby in the process of batting .298/.394/.614 with one double, one triple, five home runs, 16 RBIs, 15 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and 11 strikeouts across 15 games (66 plate appearances) this fall. He started 13 games at catcher and threw out four of 22 base stealers en route to being named to the 2022 All-Arizona Fall League Team.

A former 10th-round pick in 2019 out of Vanderbilt University who was signed as an outfielder, Scott has since emerged as a full-time backstop. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound North Carolina native split the 2022 campaign between Greenville and Portland. He is a candidate to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster on Tuesday given his upcoming Rule 5 eligibility.

Nick Yorke, 2B

Yorke, 20, played in last week’s Fall Stars Game alongside Scott. Before that, the right-handed hitting infielder missed some time with left wrist soreness. But he wound up batting a stout .342/.424/.526 with eight doubles, two home runs, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored, one stolen base, 12 walks, and 16 strikeouts over 19 games (92 plate appearances) with the Scorpions.

It was a down year for Yorke offensively, as he posted a .668 OPS in Greenville after being named the Red Sox’ Minor League Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. Perhaps what he just did in Arizona is a positive sign of what is to come. The 2020 first-round pick is still regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected to be on Portland’s Opening Day roster next spring.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Niko Kavadas ending Arizona Fall League stint on strong note

He may not have represented the Red Sox in Sunday’s Fall Stars Game like teammates Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke, but Niko Kavadas is still coming off an impressive week in the Arizona Fall League.

Kavadas was named to Baseball America’s latest AFL Hot Sheet on Monday after going 3-for-10 (.300) with one double, two home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored, and one walk in his last two games with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

On the 2022 Arizona Fall League season as a whole, Kavadas has batted .256/.442/.487 with three doubles, those two homers, five runs driven in, seven runs scored, 12 walks, and 21 strikeouts across 13 games (52 plate appearances) for Scottsdale.

Due to the relatively low number of plate appearances, the left-handed hitting slugger does not qualify as a league leader. But he would own the 11th-highest on-base percentage, 19th highest slugging percentage, the 16th-highest OPS (.929), the fourth-highest walk rate (23.1 percent), and the 11th-highest isolated power mark (.231) if he did.

Defensively, Kavadas has seen all his playing time with the Scorpions come at first base. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder has committed just two errors while logging 102 innings at his primary position. He has shared first-base duties with Giants prospect Logan Wyatt.

Kavadas, 24, is just weeks removed from earning 2022 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors after a promising first full season in pro ball. The 2021 11th-round draft pick out of Notre Dame slashed .280/.443/.547 with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs in 120 games (515 plate appearances) between Low-A Salem, High-A Greenville, and Double-A Portland.

After effectively tearing the cover off the ball at the Class-A level, Kavadas earned a late-season promotion to Portland in mid-August. That is where things started to get a bit tougher for the Indiana native, as he hit just .222 (18-for-81) with five extra-base hits in 24 games with the Sea Dogs to close out the year.

While his strikeout rate increased rapidly after making the jump from Greenville to Portland, Kavadas still managed to get on base at a respectable rate thanks to ball four. Among the 205 Eastern League hitters who made at least 100 trips to the plate this season, Kavadas posted the 16th-highest walk rate (16.0 percent) and 31st-highest on-base percentage (.370), per FanGraphs.

As the Arizona Fall League season comes to a close later this week, Kavadas finds himself currently ranked by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is expected to return to Portland for the start of the 2023 minor-league season next April.

If things go according to plan, these past few weeks will have served as a proper adjustment period for Kavadas as he looks to continue to improve against more advanced pitching and the challenges it brings.

(Picture of Niko Kavadas: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox have 0.8 percent chance to land No. 1 pick in 2023 MLB Draft

The Red Sox did not finish with the worst record in baseball this season, yet they will have a chance to pick first in next year’s amateur draft.

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that the first-ever draft lottery will take place during next month’s Winter Meetings in San Diego. Thanks to the newly-implemented collective bargaining agreement, the first six picks of the 2023 draft will now be determined via lottery as opposed to the reverse order of the previous year’s standings.

Coming off a 78-84 2022 campaign that saw them fall short of the postseason, the Red Sox would be in line to receive the 14th overall pick in the 2023 draft under the old collective bargaining agreement. They now have the 14th-best odds to obtain the No. 1 pick next July.

Boston will be in the mix with the 17 other non-playoff teams for the top overall selection. The teams with the three worst records in 2022 — the 55-107 Nationals, the 60-102 Athletics, and 62-100 Pirates — have the best chance (16.5) to win the top pick in the lottery.

From there, the Reds (13.2 percent) have the fourth-best, the Royals (10.0 percent) have the fifth-best, the Tigers (7.5 percent) have the sixth-best, the Rangers (5.5 percent) have the seventh-best, the Rockies (3.9 percent) have the eighth-best, the Marlins (2.7 percent) have the ninth-best, the Angels (1.8 percent) have the 10th-best, the Diamondbacks (1.4 percent) have the 11th-best, the Cubs (1.1 percent) have the 12th-best, the Twins (0.9 percent) have the 13th-best, the Red Sox (0.8 percent), have the 14th-best, the White Sox (0.6 percent) have the 15th-best, the Giants (0.5 percent) have the 16th-best, the Orioles (0.4 percent) have the 17th-best, and the Brewers (0.2 percent) possess the 18th-best odds.

In addition to having a 0.8 percent chance to land the top pick, the Red Sox have a 0.9 percent chance to pick second, a 1.0 percent chance to pick third, a 1.2 percent chance to pick fourth, a 1.4 percent chance to pick fifth, and a 1.7 percent chance to pick sixth, according to Tankathon.com.

If Boston’s No. 1 selection falls out of the top six in the lottery, it would pick 14th overall. Tankathon.com relays that the Sox have a 78.9 percent chance to pick 14th, a 13.6 percent chance to pick 15th, and a 0.6 percent chance to pick 16th.

While it is extremely unlikely the Red Sox come away with the top overall pick (something that has never happened in franchise history) on December 6, they have been able to use the first round of past drafts to strengthen their improving farm system.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and vice president of player development and amateur scouting Toboni, Boston has taken infielders Mikey Romero, Marcelo Mayer, and Nick Yorke with its first pick in each of the last three drafts. All three Californians currently sit within the top 12 of Baseball America’s Red Sox prospects rankings.

(Picture of Mikey Romero: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects at the Fall Stars Game: How did Stephen Scott, Nick Yorke fare in Arizona Fall League showcase?

Red Sox prospects Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke participated in the 16th annual Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game at Mesa’s Sloan Park on Sunday afternoon.

Scott got the start behind the plate for the American League squad and batted out of the nine-hole. The left-handed hitter went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored. He grounded out in the second inning, walked and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Heston Kjerstad in the fifth, and singled with two outs in the top of the sixth.

In the latter half of the frame, Scott was replaced at catcher by Brewers prospect David Fry. Yorke also came off the bench in the sixth inning as he pinch-hit for Twins infielder Edouard Julien. The right-handed hitter struck out in his first plate appearance and then took over for Julien at second base. He later grounded out to lead off the ninth as he finished the day having gone 0-for-2.

The National League ultimately defeated the American League by a convincing score of 9-3. Cubs prospect Matt Mervis earned Fall Star Game Most Valuable Player honors after accounting for the contest’s lone home run.

Scott, who also took part in the first-ever Arizona Fall League Home Run Derby on Saturday, was deservedly named a Fall Star earlier this weekend. The 25-year-old backstop has batted .315/.393/.648 with one double, one triple, five home runs, 16 RBIs, 15 runs scored, one stolen base, seven walks, and 10 strikeouts in his first 14 games (61 plate appearances) with the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Among qualified AFL hitters, Scott currently ranks tied for second in homers, fourth in RBIs, tied for fifth in runs scored, sixth in slugging percentage, third in isolated power (.333), and fifth in OPS (1.041), per MLB.com. The North Carolina native was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt University. He can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this winter if he is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by November 15.

Yorke, meanwhile, has been one of the more productive hitters in the fall league despite missing some time recently with left wrist soreness. Across 19 games (92 plate appearances) with Scottsdale, the 20-year-old second baseman has slashed .342/.424/.526 with eight doubles, two home runs, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored, one stolen base, 12 walks, and 16 strikeouts.

According to MLB.com’s AFL leaderboards, Yorke is second in doubles and runs driven in, fifth in runs scored, 15th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging percentage, and 11th in OPS (.950). The former first-round pick out of Archbishop Mitty High School is currently ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Following Sunday’s Fall Stars Game, the AFL regular season will resume on Tuesday and conclude on Thursday. The top three teams make the playoffs. The No. 1 seed receives a first-round bye of sorts while a play-in game between the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds will determine who they take on in the championship next Saturday.

At 13-13, the Scorpions are currently tied with the Peoria Javelinas for sole possession of the second seed. At the same time, they hold a half-game lead over both the Glendale Desert Dogs and Mesa Solar Sox (13-14) for the third and final playoff spot.

(Picture of Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke: Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects Stephen Scott, Nick Yorke selected to 2022 Fall Stars Game

Red Sox prospects Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke have been selected to the 2022 Fall Stars Game, the Arizona Fall League announced earlier Friday morning.

Scott and Yorke will represent the American League in the 16th annual Fall Stars this coming Sunday, November 6, at Mesa’s Sloan Park.

One of four catching prospects selected from the junior circuit, Scott comes into play Friday batting .327/.386/.673 with one double, one triple, five home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 10 strikeouts across 13 games (57 plate appearances) for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

The left-handed hitting 25-year-old is currently in a five-way tie for the league lead in homers. As such, he will participate in the first-ever Arizona Fall League Home Run Derby on Saturday.

Defensively, Scott has logged 88 innings behind the plate for the Scorpions so far this fall. In that time, the 5-foot-11, 207-pound backstop has thrown out four of 20 potential base stealers.

The Red Sox originally selected Scott in the in the 10th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the esteemed Vanderbilt University. The North Carolina native began his professional career in the outfield but has since transitioned to become a full-time catcher.

After splitting the 2022 minor-league season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, Scott can become Rule 5-eligible for the first time this winter. The Red Sox would need to add him to their 40-man roster at some point this month if they want to prevent that from happening.

Yorke, meanwhile, recently missed about a week of action due to left wrist soreness. Since returning to Scottsdale’s lineup on Tuesday, though, the 20-year-old second baseman has gone 3-for-10 (.300) with one home run, three RBIs, and two runs scored.

On the AFL campaign as a whole, the right-handed hitting Yorke is slashing .324/.414/.507 with seven doubles, two homers, 18 RBIs, 17 runs scored, 12 walks, and 15 strikeouts over 18 games (87 plate appearances) with the Scorpions. All of his playing time on the field has come at second base.

Yorke was taken by the Sox with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. The 6-foot, 200-pound infielder spent the entirety of the 2022 minor-league season with Greenville and is currently regarded by Baseball America as the fifth-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Stephen Scott selected to participate in first-ever Arizona Fall League Home Run Derby

Red Sox prospect Stephen Scott was one of eight minor-leaguers selected to participate in the first-ever Arizona Fall League Home Run Derby on Saturday.

Scott will compete alongside the likes of the Diamondbacks’ Deyvison De Los Santos, the Twins’ Edouard Julien, the Orioles’ Heston Kjerstad, the Cubs’ Matt Mervis, the Dodgers’ Andy Pages, the Mariners’ Robert Perez Jr., and the Phillies’ Jhailyn Ortiz at Mesa’s Sloan Park.

Of the eight players who will put their power on display this weekend, Scott is the only one who is not regarded by MLB Pipeline as one of the top 30 prospects within his own organization.

In 13 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions this fall, Scott has batted .327/.386/.673 with one double, one triple, five home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 10 strikeouts over 57 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter is currently in a four-way tie for the lead league in homers and a two-way tie for the lead league in slugging percentage.

Defensively, Scott has seen most of his playing time with the Scorpions come at catcher. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound backstop has logged 88 innings behind the plate thus far and has thrown out four of 20 base stealers.

Scott, 25, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt University. The North Carolina native began his professional career in the outfield but has since transition to become a full-time catcher. He split the 2022 minor-league season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland is expected to return to the Sea Dogs next spring.

Other Arizona Fall League notes:

Nick Yorke returned to Scottsdale’s lineup on Tuesday for the first time since October 25. After missing more than a week with left wrist soreness, the 20-year-old second baseman batted leadoff for the Scorpions and went 1-for-5 with an RBI and two strikeouts in their 7-6 win over the Solar Sox.

Following Tuesday’s performance, Yorke is now slashing .318/.420/.470 with seven doubles, one home run, 16 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 12 walks, and 14 strikeouts in 17 AFL contests (81 plate appearances). The former first-round pick is currently ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Thad Ward, who has been sidelined with a left oblique strain since Oct. 10, is nearing a return to in-game action for the Scorpions. The 25-year-old right-hander is expected to pitch in a game by the end of the week or this weekend, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

The Red Sox sent Ward to Arizona after he was limited to just 51 1/3 minor-league innings this season on his road back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last June. The native Floridian had made two starts for Scottsdale prior to getting hurt last month and allowed four runs over 7 2/3 innings. He is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s fifth-ranked pitching prospect.

Finally, 2022 Fall Star rosters will be revealed in full on Friday. Of the eight eligible Red Sox prospects, Scott and Yorke would seem to have the best chance of being named to the American League squad. Maybe right-handed reliever Jacob Webb will garner some consideration as well.

The Fall Stars Game itself will take place on Sunday, November 6, at Sloan Park. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. eastern time. The showcase will be broadcasted on MLB Network.

(Picture of Stephen Scott: Barry Gossage/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox prospects Stephen Scott, Nick Yorke off to hot starts in Arizona Fall League

Red Sox prospects Stephen Scott and Nick Yorke were named to Baseball America’s Arizona Fall League Hot Sheet on Monday.

Playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions out west, both Scott and Yorke enjoyed productive weeks at the plate. The former went 4-for-11 (.364) with two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and three strikeouts. The latter went 7-for-17 (.412) with three doubles, three RBIs, three runs scored, three walks, and five strikeouts.

Since the Arizona Fall League season began on October 3, Scott has batted .400/.432/.800 with one triple, four homers, 12 runs driven in, 13 runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and seven strikeouts over nine games spanning 37 trips to the plate.

Among qualified AFL hitters coming into play on Monday, the left-handed hitting 25-year-old ranks fifth in batting average, 19th in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, second in OPS (1.303), and second in isolated power (.400). He is currently in a three-way tie for the league lead in home runs.

Defensively, Scott has split time at catcher with the Giants’ Andy Thomas and Adrian Sugastey in his brief tenure with the Scorpions. The 5-foot-11, 207-pound backstop has logged a team-leading 64 innings behind the plate and has thrown out three of 17 base stealers.

Scott, who does not turn 26 until next May, was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt University. After splitting the 2022 minor-league season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, the North Carolina native is a candidate to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November since he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft later this winter.

Yorke, meanwhile, is also enjoying offensive success in Arizona. The right-handed hitting infielder is now slashing .340/.439/.472 to go along with a league-leading seven doubles, 10 RBIs, 14 runs scored, 10 walks, and 11 strikeouts across 14 games (66 plate appearances) for the Scorpions.

Coming into play this week, Yorke ranks first among qualified AFL hitters in doubles and runs scored, 11th in RBIs, fifth in walks, 15th in batting average, 17th in on-base percentage, 21st in walk rate (15.2 percent) and 21st in OPS (.911), per MLB.com.

On the other side of the ball, Yorke has shared second base responsibilities with the Angels’ Kyren Paris and the Braves’ Cade Bunnell in Scottsdale. In similar fashion to Scott, the 6-foot, 200-pounder has logged a team-high 99 innings at the keystone and has committed just one error.

At just 20 years old, Yorke is one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League this year. The native Californian was originally taken by the Sox with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose. He spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign at Greenville and is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Both Scott and Yorke figure to have a good chance to represent the Red Sox in the Fall Stars Game, which takes place on Sunday, November 6. The Arizona Fall League regular season runs through Nov. 10 and the championship game will take place two days later.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Brian Abraham on Nick Yorke playing in Arizona Fall League: ‘He’s continued to improve in the second half, and this would be an opportunity to continue that’

Second baseman Nick Yorke will be among the 12 youngest prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League this year, according to Baseball America.

Yorke, 20, was one of eight Red Sox prospects named to the Scottsdale Scorpions’ preliminary roster this past Friday. He is slated to the join the likes of right-handers Aaron Perry, Thaddeus Ward, Jacob Webb, and Ryan Zeferjahn, catcher Stephen Scott, first baseman Niko Kavadas, and outfielder Wilyer Abreu in Arizona next month.

Originally selected by Boston in the first round of the 2020 draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, Calif), Yorke entered 2022 as a consensus top-100 prospect after earning Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year honors in his first full professional season.

Journeying back to High-A Greenville to kick off the 2022 campaign, Yorke got off to a slow start. The right-handed hitting infielder batted .245/.319/.361 (89 wRC+) with just nine extra-base hits in his first 34 games before being placed on the injured with turf toe towards the end of May.

Yorke returned to the Greenville lineup on June 7, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts in a 6-3 loss to the Asheville Tourists. He then missed an additional two weeks because of back stiffness.

From June 21-July 3, Yorke went 7-for-39 (.205) at the plate with 13 strikeouts and three walks. His next in-game appearance did not come until after the All-Star break, as the native Californian was experiencing left wrist soreness that the Red Sox wanted to be cautious about.

From July 22 through the end of the season, Yorke was a regular in the Drive lineup who appeared in 35 of their final 40 games. He hit just .224 over that stretch, though he did slash a more respectable .320/.414/.480 (148 wRC+) in six September contests.

Put it all together, and it was a sophomore slump of sorts for Yorke. In 80 real games, he posted a .231/.3o3/.365 line to go along with 10 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 45 runs driven, 48 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 94 strikeouts across 373 total trips to the plate.

Although his 84 wRC+ indicates he was a below-average hitter this season, internal metrics show that Yorke was better than the numbers suggest, according to Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham.

In a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, Abraham revealed that the motive behind sending Yorke to Arizona simply goes back to getting him more at-bats after an injury-plagued season that did not yield great results.

“We have some things we were working with him on that we want to see through in the Fall League,” said Abraham. “He’s continued to improve in the second half, and this would be an opportunity to continue that.”

Yorke, who committed just one error in 593 1/3 defensive innings at second base this season, will be competing with other infielders such as the Braves’ Cal Conley, the Angels’ Kyren Paris, and the Orioles’ Cesar Prieto for playing time at the keystone position. It also helps that he will have direct access to Triple-A Worcester assistant hitting coach Michael Montville, who will be a member of the Scorpions’ coaching staff.

The 2022 Arizona Fall League season begins on October 3 and concludes with the championship game on Nov. 12 at Scottsdale Stadium, which is where the Scorpions will play their home games.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Nick Yorke headlines group of 8 Red Sox prospects who will play in Arizona Fall League

For the second consecutive year, the Red Sox will send eight prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Catcher Stephen Scott, first baseman Niko Kavadas, second baseman Nick Yorke, outfielder Wilyer Abreu, and right-handers Thaddeus Ward, Aaron Perry, Jacob Webb, and Ryan Zeferjahn will join fellow minor-leaguers from the Braves, Orioles, Angels, and Giants organizations in suiting up for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Of the eight, Yorke (No. 4), Abreu (No. 22), Ward (No. 25), and Kavadas (No. 30) all crack Baseball America’s Top 30 Red Sox prospects list. Abreu, Perry, Ward, and Zeferjahn can all become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at the end of the year as well.

Yorke, Boston’s top pick in the 2020 draft, had a tough season at High-A Greenville. Limited to just 80 games due to a number of injuries (including turf toe, back stiffness, and left wrist soreness), the right-handed hitting 20-year-old batted .231/.303/.365 (84 wRC+) with 10 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 45 RBIs, 48 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 373 plate appearances. If there’s any consolation, he did hit .320 with a 148 wRC+ in the month of September.

Abreu, one of two prospects acquired from the Astros in last month’s Christian Vazquez, has been on an absolute tear with Double-A Portland. Going back to the start of September, the left-handed hitting 23-year-old has slashed .300/.492/.550 (184 wRC+) with one double, three home runs, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored, six stolen bases, 17 walks, and 13 strikeouts in his last 13 games (59 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs. He has also played all three outfield positions.

Ward, 25, is regarded by Baseball America as the ninth-ranked pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Florida-born right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June and has been limited to just 51 1/3 innings this season as a result.

Since making the jump from Greenville to Portland in early August, Ward has posted a 2.43 ERA and 3.57 FIP to go along with 41 strikeouts to 14 walks over seven starts spanning 33 1/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. He was placed on the 7-day injured list on Wednesday because of back stiffness but is not expected to be sidelined for long, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Kavadas, who turns 24 next month, was selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of last year’s draft out of the University of Notre Dame. In his first full professional season, the burly left-handed hitter has made it all the way to Portland after batting a combined .295/.460/.603 (186 wRC+) with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs in 96 games (415 plate appearances) between Low-A Salem and Greenville.

Though his production has dipped with the Sea Dogs (117 wRC+ in 22 games), Kavadas still represents one of the more intriguing prospects in the Red Sox farm system given his power potential and plate discipline.

As for the other four prospects Boston will be sending out west, Scott was originally drafted as an outfielder out of Vanderbilt University in 2019 but has since become a full-time catcher. The 25-year-old has thrown out 23 of 83 base stealers between Greenville and Portland this season.

Perry, 23, made just three relief appearances for the Drive this season and did not allow a run over three innings. Webb, also 23, was recently promoted to Portland after pitching to a 3.72 ERA (3.24 FIP) in Greenville. Zeferjahn, 24, has yielded just one run in his first five relief outings with the Sea Dogs after being promoted in late August.

The 2022 Arizona Fall League season kicks off on Monday, October 3 and concludes with the AFL Championship Game on Saturday, November 12. The Scorpions will play their home games at Scottsdale Stadium.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox have No. 11 farm system in MLB, per Baseball America’s latest rankings

The Red Sox have the No. 11 farm system in Major League Baseball, according to Baseball America’s midseason organization talent rankings.

Ranking behind the likes of the Orioles, Dodgers, Guardians Diamondbacks, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals, Mets, Pirates, and Rockies, the Sox are exactly where they stood prior to Opening Day.

In their most-recent top 100 prospects rankings, Baseball America placed three Boston minor-leaguers within its top 30. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer leads the pack at No. 12, while right-hander Brayan Bello and first baseman Triston Casas follow at No. 21 and No. 28, respectively.

Ceddanne Rafaela, who is in the midst of a breakout season and represented the Red Sox at the All-Star Futures Game in Los Angeles, entered Baseball America’s top 100 last month and is currently regarded as the 82nd-ranked prospect in the game.

Nick Yorke, Boston’s first-round draft selection in 2020, was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 31 prospect in baseball coming into the 2022 season but has since fallen off the list completely. He is, however, batting .294/.342/.529 (127 wRC+) in his last eight games with High-A Greenville.

Baseball America notes that Mayer “looks even more like the potential star many pegged him as in the 2021 draft,” while adding that Rafaela’s breakout “has lessened the blow” of Yorke falling off the top 100.

Beyond Mayer, Bello, Casas, Rafaela, and Yorke, “there is solid depth throughout the Red Sox system, but a majority of the upside lies among a group of teenagers in rookie ball.”

Some of those teenagers in rookie ball would include Dominican outfielder Miguel Bleis, 2022 draft selections Mikey Romero, Cutter Coffey, and Roman Anthony, right-hander Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz, and shortstops Freili Encarnacion and Luis Ravelo.

Though he is no longer in rookie ball, Blaze Jordan does not turn 20 until December and is ranked by Baseball America as the top power hitter and No. 10 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer and Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)