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October 8, 2021 at 8:00 AM

Nick Yorke: 2021 SoxProspects.com Player of the Year

This week is SoxProspects.com award week, with several accolades being handed out over the last few days. We have announced the All-Star pitchers, All-Star position players, Homegrown Player, Ex-Prospect, and Graduate of the Year, and the Rookie, Breakout, and Comeback Player of the Year. Now it is time to name the winner of the top award given out by SoxProspets.com each year, the Player of the Year.

Player of the Year

Nick Yorke was a bit of a surprise when he was announced as the Red Sox first pick in the shortened 2020 MLB draft with the 17th overall pick out of Archbishop Mitty HS (CA). It was an odd year with many seasons cut short and a truncated scouting process that had many outlets listing Yorke as a likely second-round pick. Despite his youth and inexperience, the second baseman was assigned to the Alternative Training Site last year, and even though he received glowing reports, Red Sox fans would have to wait until 2021 to get their first look at him in real game action.

The 19-year-old was assigned to Salem where he was over two years younger than league average, and also ranked 10th on the SoxProspects.com rankings. Not uncommon for a player's first season as a pro, Yorke got off to a slow start. In May, he hit .195/.264/.220 in his 21 games that month. However, his struggles were very short-lived. During the rest of his time in Salem, through mid-August, he hit .373/.467/.608 with 10 home runs, 12 doubles, 4 triples, and 11 stolen bases (in 19 attempts). Despite the slow start, he was still able to finish with a .300-.400-.500 line (.323/.413/.500) over the 76 games and earned a promotion to Greenville on August 23.

It was hard to imagine that Yorke could improve upon that performance at High-A, especially when almost four years younger than the league average positional player, but the 6-foot, 200 pounder just kept ranking and never slowed down. He had 10 hits in his first five games and only went hitless in only three of his 21 games for the rest of the season. Yorke finished his year at Greenville, by hitting .333/.406/.571, and overall between the two levels he finished the year with .325/.412/.516 with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 5 triples, 13 steals, 76 runs, 62 RBI, and 69 strikeouts to 52 walks over 442 plate appearances.

The accolades rolled in all season for Yorke. He was named a Pre-Season SoxProspects.com All-Star. In August, he won SoxProspects.com Player of the Week twice, SoxProspects.com Player of the Month, Low-A East Player of the Week, and Low-A East Player of the Month. He ends the minor league season ranked 63 on Baseball America's prospect rankings, 96 on MLB.com's rankings, and third on the SoxProspects.com rankings To cap it off, he was named the 2021 Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year and a SoxProspects.com All-Star.

While there may have been some doubt when Yorke was selected 17th overall in 2020, his performance since has erased any doubt that he is one of the top second base prospects in all of baseball, and that is why he is the 2021 SoxProspects.com Player of the Year.

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke by Kelly O'Connor.

Will Woodward is a Co-Owner and Senior Staff Writer for Soxprospects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPWill.