This Red Sox prospect's steadiness has him a call away from The Show

June 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

BOSTON -- For the most part, when a Minor Leaguer gets promoted a level, it’s due to some dominance on the stat sheet.

However, with , Boston’s first-round Draft selection in 2020, the narrative was a little different when he got moved up to Triple-A Worcester on June 5.

At the time of that promotion, Yorke had a batting line of .251/.325/.366 with eight doubles, four homers and 27 RBIs in 175 at-bats.

Dig a little deeper and the biggest thing that seemed to be holding Yorke back was the weather in Portland, Maine, which wasn’t conducive to driving the baseball.

In his Double-A home games this season, Yorke had a line of .232/.306/.263 in 95 at-bats. On the road, he slashed .275/.348/.488 in 80 at-bats, with all four of his homers.

“I felt like I was hitting a lot of balls hard that were just getting caught,” said Yorke. “You see an outfielder usually run back on them and they’re running in and it’s like, ‘What do I have to do?’ Playing in a ballpark like Portland in April and May, it’s tough to get stuff going. Credit to guys like [Marcelo] Mayer, Roman [Anthony] and [Kyle] Teel for raking. That’s impressive.”

Mayer (Red Sox's No. 1 prospect and No. 11 overall by MLB Pipeline), Anthony (Boston's No. 2 prospect and No. 16 overall) and Teel (Sox's No. 3 prospect and No. 29 overall) are elite prospects, but the 22-year-old Yorke comes in at No. 6.

And now he’s just one level away from getting a callup to Boston.

“I’m very happy,” said Yorke. “Obviously to get moved up is exciting and to be that much closer to the big leagues, it means a lot.”

If Yorke’s first four games at Triple-A were any indication, Worcester’s Polar Park is a much better fit for him than Hadlock Field.

In his first five games for the WooSox, Yorke was 7-for-19 (.368) with a double and two homers.

Given Yorke’s speed on the bases and his solid defense at second base, he will be a valuable player if he can be productive on offense.

When the Red Sox sent Yorke back to Minor League camp in March, manager Alex Cora challenged Yorke to get back to being a force at the plate.

“He didn't do much offensively. It felt like he was in between the whole camp. He didn't get too many opportunities because of a lack of versatility [on defense],” Cora said on March 18. “But he played great at second base. The times that he was on the bases, he had good instincts. But the offensive side of it, that was his ticket when he got drafted. He’s gonna be an offensive middle infielder. We’ve got to get back to that.”

Yorke has answered that challenge while also expanding his horizons on defense, starting 11 games in left field for Portland. He will also get some action in the outfield at Worcester.

“He's a good athlete,” Cora said. “Big, strong and he moves well. He moves really well.”

For someone who has played infield for most of his life, Yorke is getting used to the pace of the game from the grass.

“When I'm out there in left, sometimes it's a slow day out there and I’m like, ‘Second base looks fun.’ But I’m having a good time,” said Yorke. “It’s been fun, it's been a little bit of a transition. Reading balls in left field is a little bit different than second base, but it’s going well.”

Here are some happenings at the other levels of Boston’s farm system.

Double-A Portland: You wonder when a promotion to Triple-A is coming for Mayer. He continues to have a marvelous season at Double-A. In a recent 10-game stretch from May 26-Thursday, the left-handed hitter went 12-for-34 (.353) while accumulating 10 runs, 12 hits, four doubles and eight RBIs while drawing nine walks.

High-A Greenville: No. 11 prospect , who played just 34 games last season due to a back injury, is trying to get his timing back after the time missed. Romero, Boston’s first-rounder in ’22, made his debut for Greenville on May 15. The shortstop went deep on Friday. The 20-year-old has a .254 average in his first 13 games this season for the Drive.

Single-A Salem: No. 4 prospect continues to show why he is one of the most gifted players in Boston’s farm system. The outfielder has taken off since his slow start to the season. From May 3-25, Bleis had a .939 OPS while stealing nine bases. He has all the tools to be an impact player.