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September 2, 2021 at 12:00 PM

August Players of the Month: Nick Yorke and Raynel Espinal

August was a month that saw the bats run hot while the pitching went a bit cold. Even with 14 regulars posting an OPS over .850, Nick Yorke still blew away the competition on the position player front. Raynel Espinal saw his great month culminate with a cup of coffee with the Red Sox as the 29-year-old right-hander made his major league debut. 

Yorke easily paced the system in hits, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS. The 19-year-old finished the month with a final line of .414/.500/.816 between Salem and Greenville. He totaled nine home runs, 27 RBI, and had the same amount of walks as strikeouts (14). Even more impressive is that he did this while being promoted in the middle of the month. He hit .419/.513/.839 in 16 games with Salem and then hit .400/.464/.760 in six games with Greenville. Baseball America recently ranked Yorke as the 99th best prospect in baseball. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall also saw Yorke in August and said that Yorke "is one of the most advanced teenage hitters in the system in some time." His .483 OPS in May caused many people to write him off too quickly, and he now has a 1.091 OPS over the last three months. 

In four starts in Worcester in August, Espinal went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA while holding batters to an OPS of just .365. Opponents hit .123 against him and he allowed only two extra-base hits. In those 21 2/3 innings, he struck out 21 and walked seven. His best start was on August 17 when he fired seven scoreless frames against his old team, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. With several players being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list for Boston, Espinal was called up and pitched two innings against Tampa Bay on August 30. After working a scoreless seventh inning, Wander Franco got to him for a two-run single in his second inning of work. Espinal is now on the taxi squad, so Boston fans may see him again in the near future. 

One honorable mention is Elih Marrero, who hit .488/.566/.659 in August. Like Yorke, he had just as many walks as strikeouts (9), and he even stole five bases in just 14 games as a catcher. His .588 batting average on balls in play is due for some regression, but it was still a tremendous month for the 24-year-old in Greenville. 

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke by Kelly O'Connor