How Yankees won Anthony Volpe’s heart and Dodgers lost out

Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees
Sara Molnick
Sunday May 14, 2023

Table of Contents

Anthony Volpe has demonstrated a level of maturity that belies his youth. Despite experiencing a lack of offensive results, he has been consistently hitting the ball hard and putting together solid at-bat.

On Friday, the Yankees’ rookie shortstop faced a new challenge when he was moved from his leadoff position for the first time since April 15. However, Anthony Volpe rose to the occasion and played a crucial role in the Yankees’ hard-fought win against the Rays, delivering two clutch hits in consecutive at-bats, including his fifth home run. This followed his first-ever grand slam, which he hit just two days earlier.

Anthony Volpe made his debut on Opening Day as the Yankees’ No. 11 to man arguably the most prestigious position in the game at the age of 21. Though he was on the Yankees’ radar when he was on his school team, the team had to clear several obstacles before signing him. They pounced on the chance once the Los Angeles Dodgers dodged him. Still, it was their scouting diplomacy that enticed Anthony Volpe away from his commitment to Vanderbilt.

Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees

Anthony Volpe: Dodgers’ loss is Yankees gain

The Yankees benefited from a rare error by the Dodgers, a franchise well admired for it player drafting and developing in recent years. Jon Heyman of The New York Post took a shot at the Dodgers for rejecting Volpe in 2019.

According to Heyman, “Heading into the 2019 draft, the Dodgers heavily considered three prospects for their 25th and 31st overall picks — Tulane 3B Kody Hoese, North Carolina 2B Michael Busch and Delbarton (N.J.) School SS Anthony Volpe. They liked Volpe very much but heard They liked Volpe very much but heard mixed message about his signability…..With the 25th pick, the Dodgers wound up taking Hoese, who has reaching only Double-A Tulsa, where he had a .613 OPS last year.”

The Yankees, meantime, used the 30th selection on Anthony Volpe, one pick before the Dodgers took Busch, signing him for $2,740,300.

Anthony Volpe is seen during the Yankees' win against the Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2023.

A tale of how Yankees snatched Anthony Volpe

Heyman claims that Anthony Volpe called Yankees signing a “super, super, super tough decision” and had “lots of sleepless nights” before he make the decision to join the team. The reason was that he was verbally committed to attend Vanderbilt University. Though his parents are Yankees fans, Anthony Volpe, the son of a urologist and an anesthesiologist, put a high value on higher education and wanted to eventually get his degree. He was also influenced by his friend and teammate Jack Leiter, another top target, who refused the draft and instead, opted for Vanderbilt. They had dreams of winning more championships together there.

But the Yankees swayed him with a bonus of more than $2.7 million. However, it involved frantic behind-the-scene efforts to overcome a considerable hurdle. Yankees executive Jim Hendry met with his family and told them that Anthony Volpe would become a high draft target again after completing his course at Vanderbilt, but he could be stopped from joining the Yankees if another team had the first draft pick. He took Anthony Volpe and his parents out for dinner at Roots Steakhouse in Morristown, N.J., a few weeks before the 2019 MLB drafting started.

Anthony Volpe was a passionate Yankees fan and, more importantly, a star high school shortstop out of New Jersey who was about to help Delbarton win its second state title in three years. Hendry wanted the Yankees to take the teenager with their first-round pick, No. 30 overall.

Hendry’s communication skills paid off that night in the steakhouse. As the former coach at Creighton, who had taken his team to the 1991 College World Series, Hendry took the responsibility and talked to Anthony Volpe and his parents Isabelle and Michael about the young boy’s future outside a university baseball team.

Anthony Volpe with his family soon after the Yankees opted for him for their Opening Day roster.

Hendry said money was never discussed at the restaurant. He said that when he left after three or four hours of healthy, honest conversation:

“I felt really good about the human being the kid was, and how mature he was. There was no game plan. It was a perfect night of meeting great people and finding out why the kid is the way he is — because of how his parents raised him.”

“I wasn’t trying to sell the Yankees. Anthony and his family were Yankees fans way before I worked here. … And I couldn’t promise him that it was going to be us for sure, because we weren’t picking until 30.”

Anthony Volpe told Yankees Magazine that the dinner meeting ultimately “made me change my mind about going to Vanderbilt.”

A long-term Yankees asset

Thus the Yankees signed this grandson of a Mickey Mantle fan raised on the Upper East Side and in the Jersey burbs. Now 22, Anthony Volpe, who has been an ardent fan of New Jersey-born Derek Jeter and became a shortstop after him, has entered the record books as the youngest Yankee to debut on Opening Day after Jeter’s in 1996.

Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees

“His upside is he can be a really good player for a long time,” according to Hendry. “He’s earned this, but it’s still a chance of a lifetime to play shortstop for the New York Yankees at a very young age. He’s got the ability and the insides to do it. Hopefully he’ll be the kind of great long-term Yankee you can win championships with.”

Jim Hendry was already at the Yankees spring training camp to wish the young shortstop and his family following his selection by the team for the Yankees’ MLB cap. It was an occasion worthy of something more meaningful than a steakhouse dinner.

Anthony Volpe won the job with a dazzling spring season that he punctuated Saturday in the Bronx with another show of grit.

On Saturday, Anthony Volpe continued to ignite the Yankees’ momentum, breaking Joe DiMaggio’s team record for consecutive stolen bases and helping his team overcome a six-run deficit to secure a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Rays.

“That’s an energy play,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game. “You get a really good baserunning play or something like that, that tends to, on some level, be a little more of an igniter.”

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “How Yankees won Anthony Volpe’s heart and Dodgers lost out

  1. What a lovely young man.! I don’t even know him but he sets a perfect example for America’s youth. His personality shines golden and I wish him the very best for many, many years as THE Yankee shortstop.

  2. I’m a fan since 1954 and I’m excited to have young players like Volpe and O. Cabrera on the team. Volpe hits everything hard, but he currently strikes out to much and can’t catch up with a high fastball with his uppercut swing. I am hopeful that both will be longtime starters.

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