Red Sox unveil roster for Winter Warm-Up minicamp in Fort Myers; Triston Casas and Nick Yorke among prospects who will be in attendance

Beginning next week, the Red Sox will be running a minicamp for minor-leaguers who are not currently on the club’s 40-man roster.

This mini-camp, which is otherwise known as the Winter Warm-Up, essentially serves as precursor to spring training. It will consist of strength training, conditioning, and on- and off-field instruction and will be held at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

On Thursday evening, the Sox revealed who will be attending this mini-camp. The contingent heading down to Southwest Florida consists of 28 players — 12 pitchers, four catchers, nine infielders, and three outfielders.

Breaking down the 28-man pool even further, the pitchers who will be participating include left-handers Brendan Cellucci, Austin Lambright, Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, and Jeremy Wu-Yelland, and right-handers Michael Feliz, Franklin German, Brian Keller, Zack Kelly, A.J. Politi, Chase Shugart, and Thaddeus Ward.

The group of catchers attending includes Kole Cottam, Jaxx Groshans, Nathan Hickey, and Stephen Scott. The infielders who will be going are Alex Binelas, Brainer Bonaci, Triston Casas, David Hamilton, Blaze Jordan, Christian Koss, Matthew Lugo, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Nick Yorke.

The outfield composition, on the other hand, will be made up of the likes of Tyler Dearden, Nick Decker, and Gilberto Jimenez.

Of these 28 players, Feliz is the only one with prior major-league experience. The Red Sox re-signed the right-handed reliever to a minor-league deal back in December and invited him to big-league spring training. The same can be said for a fellow righty in Kelly as well.

Additionally, four of the players identified above (excluding Feliz) were acquired by the Red Sox just last month. Binelas and Hamilton were the two prospects Boston picked up alongside Jackie Bradley Jr. in the trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers, and Lambright and Keller were the two pitchers they selected in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Besides that, the likes of Casas, Jordan, Yorke, and Jimenez represent just a few of the well-regarded prospects in the Red Sox farm system who will be at this minicamp.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, the idea of the Winter Warm-up is to include players who have already made it to full-season ball, which is why someone like Marcelo Mayer — who only played in the Florida Complex League last year — was not included.

On top of that, prospects on Boston’s 40-man roster — such as Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, Josh Winckowski, Ronaldo Hernandez, Connor Wong, Jeter Downs, Hudson Potts, Jarren Duran, and Jeisson Rosario — cannot attend on account of the MLB lockout.

With that being said, The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey writes that the group of players who will be in Fort Myers will be receiving on-hand instruction from the Red Sox’ minor-league coaching and player development staff.

Katie Krall, who was recently hired as a development coach for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, will be among the staff members in attendance as they plan ahead for the 2022 season.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

4 Red Sox prospects recognized in Baseball America’s top 100 rankings heading into 2022 season

The Red Sox have four of the top 100 prospects in baseball, according to the preseason rankings Baseball America released on Wednesday.

Of the 100 players who were selected, Red Sox prospects such as shortstop Marcelo Mayer (No. 15), first baseman Triston Casas (No. 19), second baseman Nick Yorke (No. 31), and outfielder Jarren Duran (No. 91) all made the cut.

Mayer, 19, was Boston’s top selection in last summer’s draft. The Eastlake High School (Chula Vista, Calif.) product was taken with the fourth overall pick and ultimately signed with the Sox for $6.64 million as opposed to honoring his commitment to the University of Southern California.

After being assigned to the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox out of the gate, Mayer got his pro career off to a solid start. The right-handed hitting infielder slashed .275/.377/.440 with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 15 walks, and 27 strikeouts over 26 games (107 plate appearances) in the FCL.

Casas, 22, became Boston’s top selection in the 2018 draft when the club took him with the 26th overall pick out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

The 2021 season proved to be an eventful one for Casas, who played at two different minor-league levels, for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, and for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

Between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester last year, the left-handed slugger batted a stout .279/.394/.484 to go along with 15 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, 63 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 57 walks, and 71 strikeouts over 86 games spanning 371 trips to the plate. Elsewhere, he was recognized as the top first baseman in the Summer Games as well as an Arizona Fall League All-Star.

This is not the first time Casas has been recognized by Baseball America as one of the game’s top prospect. In fact, the 6-foot-4, 252 pounder has effectively been one of — if not the best prospect in the Sox’ farm system since joining the organization and could very well make his big-league debut at some point in 2022.

The same cannot be said for Yorke, who is fresh off his first full season in pro ball after being taken by the Red Sox with the 17th overall selection in the shortened 2020 draft out of Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, Calif).

At that time, Boston’s selection of Yorke was met with much surprise since the infielder was not regarded as one of the country’s top draft-eligible prospects. It now appears as though the Red Sox made a smart decision by drafting Yorke when they did.

After drawing praise from the likes of Alex Cora throughout spring training, Yorke initially got off to a slow start with Low-A Salem, but he turned things around and wound up tearing the cover off the ball across both Class-A levels in 2021.

In 97 total games between Salem and High-A Greenville, the right-handed hitting 19-year-old slashed a scorching .325/.412/.516 with 20 doubles, five triples, 14 homers, 62 runs driven in, 76 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 52 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 442 plate appearances.

Finally, we arrive at Duran, the lone Red Sox prospect on this last who was not selected by the club in the first round of his respective draft. He was instead taken in the seventh round of the 2018 draft and opened the 2021 season in Worcester.

Duran got off to a hot start with the WooSox as he batted .270/.365/.561 (144 wRC+) through his first 46 games (219 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. That impressive stretch resulted in his first big-league call-up in mid-July, though he struggled to make the most of that opportunity.

In his two stints with the Red Sox, the speedy 25-year-old hit an underwhelming .215/.241/.336 with three doubles, two triples, two home runs, 10 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, four walks, and 40 strikeouts over 33 games and 112 plate appearances. He was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on September 3 after testing positive for the virus and did not appear in another major-league contest.

Despite the disappointing debut, there is still plenty of upside with Duran, and his speed has plenty to do with that. With that being said though, the Red Sox’ outfield picture is already quite crowded at the moment, so it may be difficult for the left-handed hitter to find consistent playing time in Boston to begin the 2022 season.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, this is the first time since 2016 in which Baseball America has included at least four Red Sox prospects in its preseason top-100 list. Heading into the 2016 season, the likes of Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Anderson Espinoza, and Michael Kopech were among the publication’s top 100.

The fact that the Red Sox have as many as four prospects featured in Baseball America’s top-100 list speaks to how much the team’s farm system has improved since Chaim Bloom was named chief baseball officer in October 2019.

Given how all four of Mayer, Casas, Yorke, and Duran were drafted by the Sox, it also speaks to how well-run the club’s amateur scouting department is run. Vice president of scouting Mike Rikard can be credited with the selections of Casas and Duran, while director of amateur scouting Paul Toboni can be credited with the selections of Mayer and Yorke.

Of course, the area scouts who initially scouted these prospects when they were still amateurs deserve recognition as well. J.J. Altobelli is credited with signing Mayer, Willie Romay is credited with signing Casas, Josh Labandeira is credited with signing Yorke, and Justin Horowitz is credited with signing Duran.

(Picture of Marcelo Mayer: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Nick Yorke recognized by MLB Pipeline as Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021

To nobody’s surprise, Nick Yorke was recently recognized by MLB Pipeline as the Red Sox’ breakout prospect in 2021.

Boston’s top pick — and 17th overall selection — in last year’s amateur draft, Yorke made a strong impression at major-league camp this spring before beginning the minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

After initially getting off to a slow start, Yorke wound up slashing an impressive .323/.413/.500 to go along with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) with the Salem Sox.

Around the same time he was named the Low-A East Player of the Month for August, Yorke earned a promotion to High-A Greenville on Aug. 24. The right-handed hitting infielder capped off his professional debut by batting .333/.406/.751 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive.

Among all qualified hitters who played at either Low-A or High-A this year, Yorke ranked fourth in batting average (.325), ninth in on-base percentage (.412), 25th in slugging percentage (.516), 13th in OPS (.928), and 12th in wRC+ (149), per FanGraphs.

As a result of such a strong campaign at the plate between Salem and Greenville, the 19-year-old was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year in September and was recognized at Fenway Park for earning the honor.

Defensively, Yorke was used strictly as a second baseman this season and committed a total of nine errors in 741 2/3 innings at the position. Despite there being some concerns that Yorke may not be able to stick at second base in the long-term, the Red Sox remain committed to keeping him there as he continues to develop.

“He showed how much improvement he can make in one offseason, just with his body, his athleticism, his improvements on defense,” Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Yorke when speaking with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings earlier this month. “To me, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t continue to improve and be an impact player there.”

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022. The 6-foot, 200 pound California native is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin next season where he ended this season: Greenville.

That being said, it’s certainly possible Yorke could find himself at Double-A Portland sooner rather than later next year if he gets off to a hot start come April.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Marcelo Mayer takes over top spot in Baseball America’s latest Red Sox prospect rankings

Baseball America unveiled its top 10 prospects within the Red Sox farm system heading into the 2022 season on Wednesday morning. Most notably, there is a new No. 1 in the ranks.

Previously occupied by Triston Casas, infielder Marcelo Mayer has taken over as the top prospect in Boston’s farm system going into 2022.

The Red Sox selected Mayer with the fourth overall pick in this year’s amateur draft out of Eastlake High School (Chula Vista, Calif.).

A University of Southern California commit, Mayer — with some help from area scout J.J. Altobelli — signed with the Sox for $6.64 million in late July and was subsequently assigned to the club’s rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate in Fort Myers.

With the FCL Red Sox, the left-handed hitting shortstop slashed .275/.377/.440 (121 wRC+) with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 15 walks, and 27 strikeouts over 26 games spanning 107 plate appearances.

Going into this summer’s draft, Mayer was regarded as perhaps the best prep prospect available, and the Red Sox were able to capitalize on that after finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36) in 2020 and thus receiving the No. 4 pick in the 2021 draft.

Mayer, who turns 19 next month, joins an exceptional list of Red Sox prospects to be regarded by Baseball America as the top minor-leaguer in Boston’s farm system, such as Xander Bogaerts, Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, and Bobby Dalbec.

While Mayer is likely going to start the 2022 minor-league season at Low-A Salem, him moving up to the top spot in Baseball America’s Red Sox prospect rankings means Casas has dropped to No. 2 spot.

Here is how the rest of Baseball America’s top-10 rankings for the Red Sox shake out.

3. Nick Yorke, 2B

4. Jarren Duran, OF

5. Brayan Bello, RHP

6. Jeter Downs, IF

7. Blaze Jordan, 1B

8. Bryan Mata, RHP

9. Josh Winckowski, RHP

10. Jay Groome, LHP

It should be noted that The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, who also serves as a contributor for Baseball America, was responsible for compiling this list. You can read more about his choices by clicking here and here.

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

Xander Bogaerts shouts out Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela for being named organization’s Defensive Player of the Year

Earlier this week, the Red Sox recognized several of their minor-leaguers for the seasons they had this year by handing out eight different organizational awards.

Highlighted by Nick Yorke being named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year and Brayan Bello being named Boston’s Starting Pitcher of the Year, infielder/outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela was also recognized as the organization’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Before their series finale against the Mets at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, the Red Sox honored each of these recipients during a pre-game ceremony. Rafaela was among those who was in attendance, and he was able to grab a picture with fellow Dutch national Xander Bogaerts before the festivities concluded.

Bogaerts, a native of Aruba, took to Instagram to congratulate Rafaela, a native of nearby Curacao, for his accomplishment, writing, ‘Congrats Minor League Defensive Player of the Year Kid! Curacao Kid 🇨🇼 Ban Pa Bai 🔥💯.’  

(From Xander Bogaerts’ Instagram story on Thursday)

Rafaela, who turned 21 last week, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 25 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He was originally signed out of Curacao for just $10,000 as a 16-year-old international free agent back in 2017.

With Low-A Salem this season, Rafaela played in a total of 102 games while making 52 appearances (51 starts) in center field, 20 appearances (17 starts) at third base, 16 appearances (15 starts) at shortstop, nine appearances (nine starts) in left field, eight appearances (six starts) at second base, and one appearance (one start) in right field.

Over 516 defensive innings between all three outfield positions this year, Rafaela racked up nine outfield assists and started five double plays — all while committing just one error.

On the offensive side of things, Rafaela had himself a decent season at the plate for Salem. The right-handed hitter slashed .251/.305/.424 (95 wRC+) with 20 doubles, a team-leading nine triples, 10 home runs, 53 RBI, a team-leading 73 runs scored and 23 stolen bases (in 26 attempts), 25 walks, and 79 strikeouts over 432 plate appearances.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, the versatile, 5-foot-8, 145 pounder is “hard to miss” since “his high-energy style of play is evident in every aspect of the game and he turns heads with his unexpected bat speed and ability to put a charge in pitches in the zone, particularly against left-handers.”

As someone who hits from the right side of the plate, it’s not too surprising to see that Rafaela had far more success against left-handed pitching (.930 OPS in 79 PAs) as opposed to right-handed pitching (.681 OPS in 353 PAs) this season.

That being said, Baseball America does note that Rafaela — who represented Curacao in the 2012 Little League World Series — has a tendency to be a free-swinger, which can work against him at times, particularly on pitches outside of the strike zone that induce weak contact off his bat.

Even while taking those points into consideration, it goes without saying that Rafaela still has plenty of room — and time — to grow and develop, both as a hitter and fielder.

The Curacaoan-born infielder/outfielder can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his professional career this winter if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline, though it seems likely he will remain with the organization heading into the 2022 season.

On that note, it should be interesting to see if Rafaela participates in the Sox’ fall instructional league that begins in Fort Myers next month, as he has each of the last three years, or if he has other plans for the offseason.

(Picture of Ceddanne Rafaela and Xander Bogaerts via Instagram)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on Nick Yorke being named organization’s Offensive Player of the Year: ‘What he did is what he expects’

Alex Cora has long been impressed with what he has seen from Nick Yorke since Yorke, then 18, was the youngest player at major-league spring training earlier this year.

So, when Yorke, now 19, was named the organization’s minor-league Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after completing just his first full professional season, that did not come as much of a surprise to the Red Sox manager.

“The way he hacks, the way he goes about his business, it’s very impressive,” Cora said before Wednesday’s game against the Mets at Fenway Park. “As you guys know, I have a daughter (Camila) who is around the same age, and just to think about the way he carried himself in the clubhouse, with adults — it was eye-opening. “

After being reassigned to minor-league camp in March, Yorke later opened the 2021 campaign with Low-A Salem. The 2020 first-round draft pick out of Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.) got off to a slow start at the plate before turning a corner beginning in June.

From June 1 on, Yorke slashed a sizzling .373/.467/.608 (185 wRC+) with 12 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, 50 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 26 strikeouts over his final 55 games (255 plate appearances) with Salem before earning a promotion to High-A Greenville in late August.

Yorke’s production did not drop off following his promotion, though, as the right-handed hitting second baseman continued to light it up at the plate by batting  .333/.406/.571 (158 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts in 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive before their season ended on Sunday.

“What he did is what he expects,” Cora said of Yorke. “I told [MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith] that in spring training, he’d get mad when he made an out. So his expectations are great. He’s in-tune with the game. He understands the offensive part of it. You got to run the bases, you got to play defense — he knows that. He was a sponge the whole time.”

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, was among the youngest position players to appear in a game at the High-A level this season. He is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox farm system and the No. 63 prospect in all of baseball.

The 6-foot, 200 pounder out of California will presumably take part in Boston’s fall instructional league that begins next month and will likely receive another invite to big-league spring training come February 2022.

“We’re very pleased with the way he went about it this year,” said Cora in regards to Yorke’s 2021 season. “And we’re looking forward for him to keep getting better and get him here as soon as possible to contribute.”

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospects Nick Yorke, Brayan Bello named organization’s Offensive Player, Starting Pitcher of the Year

Two of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system were recognized for the seasons they respectively put together this year.

Infielder Nick Yorke was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year, while right-hander Brayan Bello was named Boston’s Starting Pitcher of the Year, the club announced on Tuesday.

Yorke, 19, enjoyed a great deal of success in his first professional season with the Sox after being selected with the 17th overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft.

The right-handed hitting second baseman received an invite to major-league spring training earlier this year and broke minor-league camp with Low-A Salem.

After getting off to a slow start with Salem, Yorke turned a corner at the plate beginning in June, as he was slashing a scorching .323/.413/.500 (146 wRC+) with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBI, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) before earning a promotion to High-A Greenville late last month.

Upon getting promoted to a more advanced level on the minor-league ladder, Yorke did not slow down, as evidenced by him collecting two hits in his Greenville debut on August 24.

From there, the California native went on to hit .333/.406/.571 (158 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive, whose season ended on Sunday.

All in all, Yorke this season ranked first among all qualified Red Sox minor-league hitters in batting average (.325), fourth in on-base percentage (.412), third in slugging percentage (.516), first in OPS (.928), second in wRC+ (158), per FanGraphs.

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among position players in the organization.

As for Bello, the 22-year-old right-hander also earned a midseason promotion over the summer after originally beginning the year — and dominating — with Greenville.

Across six starts with the Drive, Bello posted a dazzling 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over 31 2/3 innings of work before moving up to Double-A Portland in early June.

While the transition from High-A to Double-A did not go entirely smoothly for Bello, he was one of two prospects to represent the Red Sox in July’s All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field.

From the time he was promoted to Portland through the end of the minor-league season, the Dominican-born righty put up a 4.66 ERA, but much more respectable 3.12 FIP, while striking out 31.1% of the batters he faced and walking just 8.6% of them over 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work with the Sea Dogs.

Among the eight Red Sox minor-league pitchers who accrued at least 90 innings this season, Bello ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.46), first in strikeout rate (32.8%), first in FIP (3.02), and first in xFIP (3.16), per FanGraphs.

Bello, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, according to Baseball America.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Bello throws from a mid-three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a fastball, a changeup, and a slider.

Despite the fact he does not turn 23 until next May, Bello will more than likely be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline since he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter.

In addition to Yorke being named the Red Sox’ Offensive Player of the Year and Bello being named the Starting Pitcher of the Year, infielder/outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela was named the Defensive Player of the Year, right-hander Durbin Feltman was named the Relief Pitcher of the Year, infielder Christian Koss was named the Baserunner of the Year, outfielder Allan Castro was named the Latin Program Position Player of the Year, and right-hander Jedixson Paez was named the Latin Program Pitcher of the Year.

On top of that, right-hander Kutter Crawford — who made his major-league debut earlier this month — was named the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, which goes to a player “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Area scout Josh Labandeira joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox area scout Josh Labandeira, who covers Northern California for the team.

Labandeira, a former big-league infielder who played in seven games with the Montreal Expos in 2004, joined the Red Sox organization as an amateur scout in January 2015.

Among the topics Josh and I discussed are what it was like playing with future All-Stars like Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ben Zobrist when they were just prospects, what led him to pursue a career in scouting once his playing days were done, his relationship with Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, the benefits of scouting in California, and how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way he scouts.

We also talked about the prospects he has helped the Red Sox sign over the years, including 2019 25th-round pick Karson Simas, 2021 sixth-round pick B.J. Vela, and — perhaps most significantly, 2020 first-round pick Nick Yorke.

There are plenty of great anecdotes about Yorke throughout this episode, which is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Josh for taking some time out of his busy summer schedule to have a conversation with me.

And to the listners, thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Josh Labandeira: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Red Sox promote top prospect Nick Yorke to High-A Greenville

The Red Sox have promoted top infield prospect Nick Yorke from Low-A Salem to High-A Greenville, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Yorke, who the Sox selected in the first round and with the 17th overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, opened his first full professional season with Salem earlier this spring and got off to a rather slow start.

Through the end of May, the 19-year-old was hitting just .195/.264/.220 (41 wRC+) with two doubles, no home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, three stolen bases, eight walks, and 21 strikeouts over his first 21 games and 91 plate appearances of the year.

Once the calendar flipped to June, however, Yorke began to turn a corner offensively, as the young second baseman slashed a sizzling .373/.467/.608 (185 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, 50 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 26 strikeouts over his final 55 games (255 plate appearances) with the Salem Red Sox.

In the month of August alone, Yorke posted an absurd 1.352 OPS, bringing his totals on the season up to .323/.413/.500 (147 wRC+) in addition to 14 doubles, four triples, 10 homers, 47 RBI, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts in 76 games (346 plate appearances) at Salem.

Among the top qualified hitters in the Low-A East this season, Yorke ranks in first in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, second in OPS (.913), third in weighted on-base average (.416), and third in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

The left-handed hitter did all that while drawing a walk 11.8% of the time while also striking out a mere 13.6% of the time.

Yorke, who is listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

When the Red Sox selected Yorke, then an 18-year-old fresh out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, as early as they did in the 2020 draft, that decision was met with much criticism since he was not regarded by those in the industry as one of the top-20 talents in that year’s draft class.

Still, the Sox took Yorke with the feeling that he would not be on the board when they picked again, and that selection has certainly paid off to this point — especially since they were able to sign the California native to an underslot deal at $2.7 million.

Now that he has been promoted, Yorke will get the opportunity to go up against a more advanced level of pitching as a member of the Greenville Drive.

Defensively, Speier notes that “questions remain about whether [Yorke] will be able to stay at second base, but his performance with Salem suggested that he needs to be challenged at a higher level.”

With that being said, it should be interesting to see (a) how Yorke — who does not turn 20 until next April — responds to this new challenge and (b) what kind of start he gets off to in Greenville.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox top prospect Nick Yorke extends hitting streak to 18 games with first career multi-homer performance for Low-A Salem

Yairo Munoz is not the only minor-leaguer in the Red Sox organization putting together an impressive hitting streak at the moment.

While Munoz has now recorded at least one hit in a record-setting 30 straight games with a 1-for-4 showing for Triple-A Worcester on Sunday, top Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke extended his hitting streak to 18 consecutive games for Low-A Salem.

Starting at second base and batting leadoff for the Salem Red Sox as he typically does in Sunday’s series finale against the Lynchburg Hillcats at Haley Toyota Field, Yorke took the pressure off himself right away by ripping a leadoff single off right-hander Josh Wolf to begin things in the first inning.

After being stranded at first in the first, Yorke came up to the plate again with one out in the bottom of the third inning and things knotted at one run apiece.

Matched up against newly-inserted reliever Randy Labaut, Yorke — moments after his manager Luke Montz had been ejected from the game — drilled a solo home run to left-center field on the fourth pitch he saw to put his side up 2-1.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Hillcats and Red Sox had exchanged blows and were deadlocked in a 4-4 stalemate, Yorke delivered in the clutch big time, and he did so while leading off the inning.

On the seventh and final pitch he saw from righty Jacob Forrester, the right-handed hitter tattooed a towering, go-ahead homer over everything in left field to give Salem the lead again at 5-4.

Yorke’s sixth big fly of the season proved to be the game-winner for Salem, as they held on to take Sunday’s series finale over Lynchburg by that narrow one-run margin.

In completing the first multi-homer game of his young career, Yorke finished the day having gone 3-for-3 at the plate with those two home runs, two RBI, two runs scored, one walk, and one stolen base while lengthening his eye-catching hitting streak to a modest 18 games.

Dating back to July 15, when his streak began, the 19-year-old has posted a gaudy .366/.459/.592 (180 wRC+) slash line to go along with three doubles, two triples, three home runs, 13 RBI, 15 runs scored, nine walks, six strikeouts, and two stolen bases over his last 18 games and 85 trips to the plate.

On the 2021 campaign — his first full professional season — as a whole, the 2020 first-round pick has batted .312/.405/.456 (138 wRC+) in addition to hitting 12 doubles, three triples, and six home runs while collecting 34 RBI, scoring 44 runs, walking 34 times, striking out 43 times, and swiping 11 bags over 65 total games (294 plate appearances) with Salem.

Among the top hitters in the Low-A East to date, Yorke ranks seventh in hits (78), 22nd in runs scored, 28th in RBI, second in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 14th in slugging percentage, ninth in OPS (.861), seventh in weighted on-base average (.398), and seventh in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

For Yorke, the recent run of success he has enjoyed over the last three weeks or so comes after his inaugural season as a pro got off to a rough start.

After receiving in invite to major-league spring training and breaking minor-league camp with the Salem Sox, the California native hit a measly .195/.264/.220 in the month of May.

Since the calendar flipped to June, however, Yorke flipped the switch offensively and has batted a whopping .369/.471/.571 dating back to June 1.

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among position players in the organization.

Given how well the 6-foot, 200 pound infielder has performed with Salem as of late, one has to wonder how much longer it will be until the Red Sox feel as though Yorke is ready for a promotion to High-A Greenville.

That being said, Cameron Cannon, who has been regularly patrolling second base for the Drive this season, was promoted to Double-A Portland on Monday morning, so that seemingly opens up a spot for Yorke to take over at second base with Greenville. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)