Anthony Volpe hits 1st home run for Yankees, shows he has ‘it’ factor

A young Anthony Volpe with Derek Jeter and in Yankees pinstripes.

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The Yankees’ shortstop competition won’t be decided by Spring Training results alone, but Anthony Volpe isn’t wasting any time putting them up anyway. The team’s top prospect hit a home run off the Pirates’ right-hander Mitch Keller to start Thursday’s Grapefruit League game at LECOM Park. This is just the latest time Anthony Volpe has made an impact when he’s on the field during the Yankees spring training.

Thursday, at the top of the Yankees first inning, Anthony Volpe’s manager noticed how he was standing in the batter’s box. According to MLB Pipeline, the Yankees’ top prospect seemed to have a good lower half, showing the form that could help him hit the ball hard to all fields.

Aaron Boone wasn’t surprised when Anthony Volpe’s leadoff shot at LECOM Park went over the left-field wall and into the boardwalk area. The 21-year-old’s first home run in the Grapefruit League got the day off to a great start as the Yankees beat the Pirates 9-1.

“It definitely felt good, but I was just trying to lead the game off strong and have a good at-bat for the team,” Volpe said after the Yankees’ victory. “I saw a couple of his pitches pretty well, but just trying to put the ball on the bat with two strikes.”

More importantly, Anthony Volpe has spent the last four games showing off the skills that have helped him move up through the Yankees’ farm system. On Sunday, it had two hits and stole two bases against the Blue Jays. On Monday and Wednesday, he played shortstop and second base to show off his defensive skills and baseball knowledge. And on Thursday, Anthony Volpe showed off the power that comes with being 5 feet 11 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Mitch Keller, a right-handed pitcher for Pittsburgh, threw the 84.1 mph up-and-away pitch that Anthony Volpe hit for a home run. Keller said he was surprised Volpe tried to hit it.

“Out of my hand, I knew it was not a good pitch; it was a ball,” Keller said. “Then he got it. He’s a good hitter.”

Anthony Volpe also hit a single in the sixth inning. He went 2-for-3 for the day, walked once, and struck out once. Volpe is competing for playing time with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and No. 3 prospect Oswald Peraza. He is likely to start the season at Triple-A, where he has only played 99 times at the plate.

“He’s strong,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s stout. The great lower half stays in the ground really well. You see him kind of sit down on his legs. He has a really good swing. He can drive the ball out the other way. He’s not tall, but he’s thick and pretty stout.”

Anthony Volpe still has a long way to go to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, and a lot can happen before the team leaves camp that could change the shortstop competition. But Volpe is giving the Yankees a lot to think about if nothing else. What he has done in the first few games hasn’t surprised them, though.

Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Volpe pose for a photograph during the Yankees 2023 spring training game at Tampa, FL.

During Spring Training, starting players who leave the game early can leave the ballpark in their street clothes, but Anthony Volpe didn’t want to do that. Volpe stayed in the dugout until the last out, just like he did earlier in the week for a road game against the Blue Jays. He cheered on his teammates as they tried to finish off a no-hitter that was broken up in the ninth.

Anthony Volpe has it all

Willie Randolph saw Anthony Volpe up close and personal in Tampa, and he thought of both Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly, another Yankees captain.

“Some of those guys have ‘it,’” Randolph told the New York Post. “I see a little bit of ‘it’ in [Volpe] as far as his total focus.

Anthony Volpe started his spring by saying that he was excited to talk to Randolph. Last season, when Volpe was playing for Double-A Somerset, Randolph made an effort to get to know him.

Randolph had heard rumors—”You hear about the skillset, what you’re about, and that you’re a player”—but he wanted to see for himself if the now-21-year-old was the real deal.

Randolph can tell that Anthony Volpe is patient and works hard to get better at what he does.

“From Day 1, he’s been right here with me. You can tell he wants to be the best,” he said.

“He’s exactly what we all thought he would be,” said hitting coach Dillon Lawson about Anthony Volpe’s skills. Fans who have been watching the Yankees this spring are also starting to notice it.

Anthony Volpe is 4 for 11 and has scored three runs, hit a double, and hit his first home run on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What do you think of the rookie? Leave your comment below.

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