Nick Yorke got 21 games at the High-A level last year. Returning there to start the 2022 season, the infielder wants to be a leader for his teammates. He’s already showing it on the field.
“I think hitting’s contagious,” Yorke said after his team’s big win. “I really do, and when you’ve got someone like Tyler McDonough and Ceddanne Rafaela hitting in front of you and they’re going in and being super aggressive, taking really good pitches and putting really good ‘A’ swings on a lot of pitches, it kind of feeds over into my at-bat and then hopefully into the guys behind me.”
McDonough and Rafaela set the table for Yorke with six combined hits from the top two places in Greenville’s lineup, but the second baseman nearly matched that total on his own while engineering a monster day for his team’s offense. Yorke singled in the first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, driving in Rafaela on the second of those hits and McDonough on the last three. In between, he reached on a throwing error charged to Asheville shortstop Cristian Gonzalez.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially when the hits start pouring in and everyone’s having a good time,” he said. “It’s loose baseball, and I personally think that loose baseball is the best baseball. If you’re up there playing scared or playing timid, you may not get the results that you want, but if you’re up there having fun and staying loose and getting your good swings off and playing together, all the results will take care of themselves.”
Yorke and the Drive were trailing 3-2 after four innings before erupting for three in the fifth, six in the sixth, a run in the seventh and five in the eighth.
“We won by a lot yesterday, too, so to get the offense going early like this, it’s a lot of fun,” said Yorke, whose team beat Asheville 11-0 on Tuesday. “It’s a lot of the (Single-A) Salem guys from last year and some of the Greenville guys from last year sprinkled in, so it’s a pretty tight-knit group. Everyone’s been having a good two games, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
Yorke was 3-for-14 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs through three games. After extending his season-opening hitting streak to four games, he’s now batting .400/.429/.500 and enjoying the process of the young campaign.
“I’m pretty hard on myself, so coming into this year, one of my goals is realizing that you’re going to get to wake up and do it again tomorrow so just to have fun with it,” Boston’s No. 3 prospect said. “This game, if you’re a great hitter, if you’re one of the best hitters in the world, you’re failing seven out of ten times. Just putting that into perspective and having fun and playing the game that we all grew up playing, everything else will take care of itself.”
Yorke spent 76 games with Salem and 21 with Greenville last year, getting to know the lower classifications of the Red Sox system and the personnel therein.
“Once you get that callup in the middle of the year, you’re super excited,” he said of his Aug. 2021 promotion. “You’re honestly pretty nervous. You’re ready to go, right? Having some guys last year when I pulled up, [Christian Koss] was our shortstop, just an exceptional human being. He helped me out so much just being centered and being in the moment of playing. The game doesn’t change. It’s just baseball. I was very fortunate to have a great group of guys welcoming me when I came up.”
This year, the 2020 first-round pick is thrilled for the opportunity to pass along his experiences.
“Last year, we spent a lot of time together, so we all got pretty close,” he said. “Going into year two with these guys, it’s been a lot of fun. Everyone’s so welcoming and so warm and friendly, and they all just want to do well themselves but see you, too, and will give you any input they can to help you out, as well.
“Going into this year, there’s a lot of guys that are making their High-A debut. I’m hopefully trying to take over some of that [leadership role] and try to ease them into it.”
With promising early results, Yorke is confident and thrilled to be living in the moment of his second pro season.
“I just want to keep building relationships with my teammates,” he said. “I missed out on the college experience of being with a group of guys for four straight years or three straight years. To be able to play with a couple of these guys two years in a row, hopefully three, hopefully four, hopefully into the big leagues, it’s been a lot of fun. I just want to keep growing and meeting new people and making new friends along the way.”