Written by: Chris Clegg
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The MLB Draft has now come and gone with the Red Sox, adding talent to their farm system. The Red Sox held four picks in the five-round draft, with the first being the 17th overall pick. The MLB stripped their second-round pick from them due to the violations that led to Alex Cora‘s suspension. Without that pick, they would not select again until pick 89.
With no second-round pick, most thought the Red Sox would go big at 17 overall. Many analysts pegged Mick Abel, a talented prep pitcher, to be drafted by Boston. There were even reports that the Red Sox and Abel already had a deal in place pre-draft.
Instead, Abel went 15th to the Phillies, and the Red Sox made one of the most head-scratching selections in the first round, selecting Nick Yorke. Yorke was ranked in the 100’s by most draft ranking services and was pegged at a late-round pick. Instead, Boston selected him 17th overall, leaving many questions for Red Sox fans. The Red Sox draft was interesting, to say the least. Let’s break down the picks!
1.17: Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (CA)
Age: 18 B/T: R/R Height: 6’0 Weight: 200lbs ETA: 2024
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As mentioned in the intro, Nick Yorke was one of the most interesting picks of the first round. Most scouts had Yorke ranked well outside of the top 100 prospects for this draft class. Despite what others thought, this was the Red Sox plan from the get-go.
Boston knew that Yorke was a player they wanted, and without a second-round pick, they feared he would not be available at pick 89. Also, Yorke will likely sign an under-slot deal that will allow the Red Sox to sign their third-round pick, Blaze Jordan.
There have been polarizing reviews on Yorke’s skills. Some scouts have said they believe he is the best hitter on the west coast. While others have bashed the pick, not thinking he is worth drafting.
At The Plate
Yorke has a short swing but still produces stable bat speed from the right side of the plate. His swing is a prototypical swing for launch angle and hits the ball in the air consistently. He has an excellent hit tool, and scouts rave about his mental game. Ryan Orzella, a former California area scout, said: “It does not matter if the guy is throwing 75 miles per hour or 100 mph, Yorke is also on it and ready to hit.”
His hitting skills have shown to translate to stats. During his sophomore year, he had .494 batting average. Yorke followed that up with a .505 batting average in his junior year. He did struggle with shoulder injuries during his junior year, but he looked fine during his senior season that was cut short by COVID-19.
Orzella also stated that he believed many scouts did not see him, and if the 2020 season had not been cut short, more would have had the opportunity to scout him. He would have risen prospect rankings if he had been seen more.
Yorke is not much of a power hitter, but there is some potential for him to tap into his raw power and become an average-to-above-average home run threat. He is a pure hitter who understands how to and when he needs to tap into his power.
In The Field
Yorke was a shortstop in high school, but there are some concerns about his arm. This could lead to a move to second base, which I believe is where the Red Sox intend on him playing. He has also shown the ability to play center field. It appears that Yorke will be ready to perform at whatever positions that the Red Sox want.
While Nick Yorke being selected 17th overall may seem like a massive stretch to some, the Red Sox love his ability and potential. He reminds me of another Red Sox second basemen who happened to win the 2008 AL MVP. That player is Dustin Pedroia, who Yorke has a lot of similarities too. That is a lofty comparison and is probably a 100 percent outcome for Yorke, but he does have a lot of untapped potential. Red Sox fans need to give Yorke a chance to develop before judging this draft pick.
3.89: Blaze Jordan, 3B/1B, DeSoto Central (MS)
Age: 17 B/T: R/R Height: 6’2 Weight: 220lbs ETA: 2025
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DeSoto Central High School produced another big-time slugger in 2015 in Austin Riley. Now, in 2020, they produce another slugger with even more power. Blaze Jordan was ranked as one of the top prospects in the 2021 class before reclassifying to the 2020 class. Jordan was one of the youngest prospects in the 2020 class, not turning 18-years-old until December of 2020.
Jordan was the pick that all Red Sox fans were waiting on after selecting Yorke in the first round. Jordan has not signed with Boston yet, but it is assumed that he will be getting an over-slot deal.
At The Plate
Blaze Jordan has some of the best raw power in the draft class. He won the High School Home Run Derby at the 2019 All-Star Game last July. You can see some of those highlights above. He can hit baseballs a mile! At the age of 13, Jordan belted a pair of 500-foot home runs.
He produces impressive bat speed and exit velocity for his age. At the World Wood Bat Championship last October, Jordan was recorded at a massive 106.9 mile-per-hour exit velocity. It is important to note that Jordan was only 16-years-old at that time.
While there is no denying his power ability, there are concerns in his hit ability. He has shown big swing and miss potential against older and better competition, leading scouts to wonder how his bat will translate. With age and time, I still believe that Jordan will make enough contact to make a significant impact at the Major League level.
In The Field
Jordan has worked hard to lose weight and improve his agility and glove to stay at third base. He likely moves to first base or a corner outfield spot with time, but the Red Sox intend to give him a chance third. He has an average arm and lacks quickness, which is why I believe he will end up at first base long term.
Wherever Jordan ends up in the field, most of Jordan’s value is going to come from his bat. His raw power is enormous, and it should translate well to the next level. Jordan reminds me a lot of another Boston prospect in Triston Casas, who has significant power but still needs to work on his contact ability. I love Blaze Jordan and believe that he could be the steal of the 2020 MLB draft.
4.118: Jeremy Wu-Yelland, LHP, University of Hawaii
Age: 20 B/T: L/L Height: 6’2 Weight: 210lbs ETA: 2023
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Jeremy Wu-Yelland was fairly unknown before being selected by the Red Sox 118th overall. Wu-Yelland was pretty sub-par with Hawaii in his freshman and sophomore year before showing a mini breakthrough in a shortened season in 2020. Wu-Yelland projects as a reliever more than a starter. In his three college seasons, he only started eight games in 40 appearances. It is possible that the Red Sox drafted him knowing he could contribute to the bullpen sooner than later.
Wu-Yelland has an average frame, standing at 6’2 and weighing 210 pounds. There is not much projection left in his frame. What you see will be what Boston gets. He throws from the 3/4 arm slot with a big leg kick and short arm action coming to the plate. He puts a lot of effort in his delivery.
His fastball sits 91-95 miles-per-hour but tops at 97 mph. He has a strong arm, but he does struggle with the command and control of his fastball. His slider has a good vertical shape and sits anywhere between 79 and 83 mph. He has shown the ability to throw it with good depth and tight spin from time-to-time. His changeup is his third pitch that sits between 81 and 83 mph. When he throws it well, he has shown the ability to get right-handed hitters to swing and miss.
Wu-Yelland has shown the ability to have a good three-pitch mix. He needs to improve his command and control if he wants to succeed at the next level. He is likely going to be a bullpen arm, and that is likely where he fits best. His velocity plays up well in relief, so I think he can be successful there.
5.148: Shane Drohan, LHP, Florida State University
Age: 21 B/T: L/L Height: 6’3 Weight: 195lbs ETA: 2022
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The Red Sox were thrilled when they were able to draft Shane Drohan at pick 148. Drohan is an athletic left-hander who shows a good three-pitch mix. He is on the raw side for a college pitcher but has demonstrated pitchability against the high-end competition in the ACC. Drohan is still relatively new to baseball, as he was a star quarterback on the football field in high school. Drohan is still learning how to pitch effectively, meaning there is more to his ceiling that he can reach. He has a very long frame and throws from the three-quarter arm slot. The arm action comes very naturally, and he hides his pitches well from hitters.
His fastball sits at 92-93 miles-per-hour consistently, but he can get it up to 95 if he wants. This pitch produces a natural sink and has a high spin rate.
His second-best pitch is his curveball. It sits between 77-79 mph with 1-7 break. Its a power breaking ball with a plus spin rate like his fastball. When he finishes the curve well, it has tight rotation and good depth to it.
His changeup is his third pitch at the moment, but it has a chance to improve. He shows a good feel for it at times, meaning there is a good chance for him to continue to develop it. This is one of his most improved pitches from his time at Florida State. I like the changeup to become a plus offering with time.
Drohan’s command does need some refining. In 2019 he walked 8.36 batters per-nine-innings. He should some improvement in the small sample size of 2020, only walking 5.60 batters per-nine-innings.
Drohan has the potential to develop into a good starting pitcher for Boston. He is still very raw and needs to work on refining his pitches. His upside is high, but the command needs improvement if he wants to tap into that potential. If he can develop his curveball and changeup further, he will bring a nice three-pitch mix to the rotation. He is the type of athlete that you look for in a pitcher, and that should help him continue to grow and develop. Drohan was quoted saying: “A little bit after it all happened (getting drafted) he gave me a call and I told him, ‘I’m going to be your best pick.’ I have a chip on my shoulder.” Drohan plans to work hard and make the most of his opportunity which should lead to success.
Overall, the Red Sox had an excellent draft. I like the direction they went and think this could turn out well for them. It is hard to judge a draft immediately, so in a few years, it will be interesting to see how Yorke, Jordan, Wu-Yelland, and Drohan develop as players. I remain hopeful that these four players will give a boost to the Red Sox farm system.