Yorke finding success with steady approach in the desert

October 21st, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Pick a pitch type, and then pick a quadrant. Pitching sounds simple when boiled down to those simple tasks, but pitching when stands in the box, ready for any and everything -- any and everywhere -- becomes much more complicated, as the Red Sox No. 4 prospect showed during a three-hit, two-RBI performance for Scottsdale on Friday.

Yorke took the first two pitches of the game for strikes -- both of which appeared to be generous calls. He then laced an 0-2 cutter on the outer half back up the middle for a single. His at-bat in the second was more prolonged, eventually concluding with a 100.6 mph knock into center that plated a run off a middle-middle sinker. In the fourth, he jumped all over a hanging slider on the inner half and walloped it to the base of the left-field wall for a double that came off the bat at 101.6 mph.

“We do a good job with our hitting coaches coming in before the at-bat, they give us all the info we need,” Yorke said. “I’m just sitting on certain pitches that their percentages may show in that count. I’m a reactive hitter, so I was reacting to a lot of them today.”

Joining Yorke in the three-hit column during Scottsdale’s 10-3 win Friday over Salt River at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick was the only hitter in the Fall League with more knocks thus far -- fellow Scorpion Heston Kjerstad (Orioles No. 9 prospect). 

“Heston is batting behind me, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Yorke said of the Scorpions’ 1-2 punch. “It feels like any time I’m getting on, I’m getting driven in. But we all put together really good at-bats. Even if we get down 0-2 right away … we’re grinding out at-bats, [trying] to draw walks, whatever it is.”

During his first week in the Fall League, Yorke proclaimed that he was “ready to take off” when it came to his production. Through 14 games in the premier fall prospect circuit, he has certainly looked the part with a .340/.439/.472 line and 10 RBIs. 

Compiling hits in bunches is nothing new for Yorke, who posted an historic first pro season in 2021, becoming just the ninth teenager to post at least a qualified .300/.400/.500 line over the past 20 years. After a brief 21-game stint at High-A Greenville last year where the second baseman compiled a 158 wRC+ and .418 wOBA, those numbers were nearly flipped on their head over the course of a full campaign that was hampered by injuries this season (84 wRC+, .307 wOBA). 

Of all the fascinating stats to sparse, one stands above all else as it pertains to Yorke, who won’t turn 21 years old until just prior to the start of the 2023 season: he has yet to face a pitcher younger than him as a pro. He suited up this past campaign two and a half years younger than the average South Atlantic League player, an aspect that while not new to him, has exponentially sped up his development.

“Going into high school, that was the only time I faced guys my age,” Yorke said. “Growing up, I was playing up [in age] anyway. I’ve gotten pretty used to it, even last year. 

“These guys [in the AFL] are all a little bit more developed, more grown and all that.”

Also aiding the Scottsdale victory was a strong performance out of the cleanup spot from Red Sox catching prospect , who has been similarly scorching in the desert. Scott pulled a 406-foot homer to right-center in the third to extend the Scorpions’ lead after having driven in the game’s first run on a ground out in the first. Scott has hit .419 with a 1.229 OPS over eight games in the AFL with three homers and 10 RBIs to his credit.