Nick Yorke, the Red Sox’ first-round pick in the 2020 MLB draft, was a star in his pro debut this season.
The 19-year-old second baseman, who started the year with Low A Salem and concluded it with High A Greenville, produced a startling line, hitting .325/.412/.516 with 14 homers in 97 games.
Those numbers are even more surprising given Yorke’s early struggles. He hit .177 with a .440 OPS in May. But from June through the end of the season, he hit .361/.450/.598. In so doing, he earned the honor as Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, an award he received at Fenway Park Wednesday night.
“I was lucky the season wasn’t a month, or else I wouldn’t be here,” Yorke chuckled.
Just how good was Yorke?
The last comparable season by a Red Sox minor leaguer in the lower levels was in 2014, when the feats of 20-year-old Mookie Betts yielded phenom status over a .314/.417/.506 performance with Greenville and Salem.
And when you review his numbers, Yorke is among a handful of teenagers to hit .300 with a .400 OBP and a .500 slugging mark in full-season ball in the last decade. The others include Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Mike Trout.
|2018||Vlad Guerrero Jr.||19||AA/AAA||.381||.437||.636|
While Triston Casas — who homered in his Triple A debut Wednesday — is generally viewed as the top Red Sox prospect, some evaluators now place Yorke ahead of him. Others who continue to rank Casas ahead of Yorke believe that Yorke has a chance to claim top prospect status given the greater value of his position (second base, as opposed to first base for Casas) and the fact that he already has shown dominance at an early stage.
That conversation is not a slight on Casas — still viewed as a lock to be an everyday big leaguer, with some seeing middle-of-the-order star potential — as much as it is a reflection of a remarkable performance by Yorke, who hopes that his visit to Fenway was a prelude to many more.
“It’s surreal,” Yorke said. “Very, very grateful … that the Red Sox gave me a chance to be able to even have an opportunity of playing here.”