Boston's No. 5 prospect 'in a really good spot'

Yorke hitting .284/.415/.552 with Double-A Portland; Mata working on control in Triple-A Worcester

April 30th, 2023

BOSTON -- The night the Red Sox stunned all the prospect gurus by making Nick Yorke the 17th overall pick in the 2020 Draft, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said, “We love this kid’s bat.”

Yorke spent 2021 making those words stand up, belting the baseball at Single-A Salem and High-A Greenville to the tune of a .325/.412./516 line. Then came 2022, when the mock drafters looked like they might have been onto something. After an entire season at Greenville, Yorke’s line dipped to .231/.303/.365.

This seems like the year we will find out who Yorke really is, and so far, the Red Sox are loving what they are seeing from their No. 5 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline.

Playing for Double-A Portland, Yorke entered Sunday action with a slash line of .284/.415/.552, with five doubles, two triples and three homers. Of late, the 21-year-old has been locked in, going 12-for-38 over a 10-day stretch.

“Nick is in a really good spot,” said Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham. “He had a bit of a slow start with his bat, but not due to lack of hitting -- he just wasn’t thrown a lot of strikes. He had good at-bats, was seeing pitches and watching a lot of borderline pitches get called balls, which was good to see.”

Tracking so many pitches early in the season seemed to help Yorke once pitchers started giving him some offerings in the strike zone.

“Those lengthy at-bats where he was seeing the ball well has led to him hitting the ball hard when it’s been thrown in the heart of the zone -- hard and consistent contact to all fields with impact,” said Abraham. “He’s continued to get on base and hit the ball hard, so it’s been a good start, continuing the progress he made in the AFL and offseason.”

Yorke looks to be back on track to become the future second baseman in Boston.

Triple-A Worcester: Mata searching for control

When Spring Training ended, the Red Sox felt that Bryan Mata could be a pitcher who could help the big league club at some point this season. He made 19 appearances last season in the Minors in his return from Tommy John surgery, and the hope was he would keep building momentum as his arm got stronger.

However, Mata (0-2, 5.12 ERA) has come out of the gate struggling with his control at Triple-A. Mata, Boston’s No. 6 prospect, has walked three or more in his first five starts. The good news is that in his most recent start, he didn’t allow a run for the first time this season. But he will need to make significant command improvements to get a chance to start in the Majors.

“There’s a lot that goes into being a really good starting pitcher at the upper levels and in the Major Leagues,” said Abraham. “Bryan has always had the stuff, but being consistent, controlling his delivery and staying in the zone is something he has battled with. Being more consistent with his work in between sides and not losing his focus in-game is something we really hammered home with him.

“We are confident in him because of the worker, the competitor he is, and the ability to make adjustments and improve when needed, and also his understanding of himself and relationships/trust with our staff.”

High-A Greenville: Jordan is blazing hot

Known for his raw power since his days as a childhood prodigy, Boston’s No. 10 prospect, Blaze Jordan, is starting to show that he’s more than just a homer-happy hitter. Jordan brought a 12-game hitting streak into Sunday action and is hitting .395 over his last 10 games with only three of his 18 hits having gone over the fence.

“He’s really starting to become a good all-around hitter that can take what he’s given, drive the baseball early and protect and fight pitches off with two strikes,” said Abraham.

Single-A Salem: Ravelo shining early

There is still plenty of projectability left with Luis Ravelo, the international prospect the Sox signed out of the Dominican Republic on Jan. 15, 2021.

In his first full year at a non-rookie level affiliate, Ravelo had a line of .295/.389/.426 with two doubles and two homers for Salem in his first 72 plate appearances. Boston’s No. 26 prospect plays both middle infield positions at a high level. Ravelo is a player to follow as he continues to develop from an offensive standpoint.