Boston Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke was ready as soon as the umpire said “Play ball!”
The Red Sox infielder, who Boston selected No. 17 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, stroked a one-out single to deep right center field in his first at-bat Monday afternoon. It was his first big-league hit.
Yorke later was granted a four-pitch walk to load the bases in the seventh inning, too.
It was a performance which Red Sox manager Alex Cora called the “highlight of the day.”
“It was good. It was cool. That was tremendous,” Cora told reporters after Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Twins. “He’s here to learn. He’s here to be around big leaguers and learn how to act, how to be a professional. But you can see it. He controls the strike zone. He controls his at-bats. Started a routine double play that we didn?t turn, but that was the highlight of the day, right? Having that kid play.”
Yorke spent last offseason at Boston’s alternate training site in Triple-A Pawtucket. The 6-foot, 200-pound Yorke expressed that he was just happy to be back on a baseball field after the COVID-19 pandemic largely impacted his first season in the organization.
“I mean, it’s amazing. It’s been a lot of fun out here,” Yorke told reporters. “The coaching staff has done a really good job preparing me to get ready for the games. And yeah, just a couple years ago I was watching spring training games let alone playing in it so it was a blast. It was good to be out on the field again.
“Like I said, we haven’t been able to play on a field a lot the past year so just to get on the field it’s exciting again. You get to go do what you love. I didn’t have a lot nerves. It’s baseball at the end of the day, it’s just a game. I was just trying to go out and have some fun.”
The product of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. compiled a .457 batting average with 134 hits, 100 runs and 77 RBIs in 94 high school games. He turns 19 years old next month.
Of course, the reality is that Yorke’s just getting acquainted. Red Sox fans shouldn’t expect to see him in Boston on Opening Day, or (hopefully) at any point this season.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself. I believe I can hit off any pitcher there is,” Yorke said. “Going back to last year in Pawtucket, I was facing a lot of those really good high Triple-A guys, too. So, coming in I knew what to expect. It led this to be a little easier and this transition a little smoother.”
The Red Sox will host the Tampa Bay Rays in their third spring training game Tuesday.