Plate discipline adjustment sparks a turnaround for Yankees’ Anthony Volpe

Yankees' Anthony Volpe is with Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo at Yankee Stadium.

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ARLINGTON, Texas – One aspect of shortstop Anthony Volpe‘s game in 2021 stood out to an opposing talent scout who had seen him play for a time with High-A Hudson Valley.

“Plate discipline,” the National League scout, assigned to the Yankees’ minor-league system, said at the time. “Just a very mature approach for such a young player. “Really good energy, just seems to enjoy playing. Good hitter with a lot of upside. Power is developing, runs really well … but for me, it’s the plate discipline (that stands out first).”

Anthony Volpe breaks out of the slump

After nearly a month in the major leagues, Anthony Volpe hasn’t changed much. And it ended a hitting slump that has plagued the kid, who turns 22 on Friday, all the way back to the beginning of the season.

Before Thursday’s game, Anthony Volpe was hitting .292/.424/.882 in his previous 14 contests. He had a .129 average, a .250 on-base percentage, and a .712 OPS in his first 11 games.

Anthony Volpe overcame early struggles by patiently batting and not swinging at pitches beyond the strike zone. But his baserunning is winning hearts.

“Definitely a lot,” Anthony Volpe said of how much that plate discipline has helped him. “Since I’ve been a part of this organization, they place a really big emphasis on that.”

Anthony Volpe is batting and stealing a base at Yankee Stadium in his first season, 2023.

An AL scout who has recently watched the Yankees play has noticed a difference in Anthony Volpe.

“There’s just a lot about him that’s above average or well above average and that (plate discipline) is one,” the scout said. “With the elite bat-to-ball skills … it’s a good combination.”

As of Thursday night’s game against the Rangers, Anthony Volpe has started the previous eleven games. His teammates have lauded him ever since the first day of spring training. This has continued into the regular season, despite the increased scrutiny and pressure that comes with it.

“Most impressive is how he’s taken his walks,” Anthony Rizzo said of Anthony Volpe during the mini-slump. “That for me is a sign of maturity beyond his years of being a 21-year-old rookie. When you’re not getting your hits, it’s easy to try to hit your way out of it, but to take your walks, to see pitches, in the nine-hole (where Volpe started the season) or leading off, it sets up our lineup for success.”

Veterans support rookie Anthony Volpe

Rizzo was one of several team leaders who have been a constant support to Anthony Volpe in the first two weeks.

“A lot of guys did,” said Aaron Judge, who seems to have taken Anthony Volpe under his wings ever since the duo met at spring training. “All of us just collectively telling him that, hey, don’t worry about the first couple of weeks, we still have (137) games or whatever to play. Things are going to happen. You’re going to have down time, the league’s going to figure you out, you’re going to adjust, you’re going to get hot, you’re going to get cold. It’s just about trying to stay even keeled. He’s going to be just fine.”

In response to the support, Anthony Volpe described it as “amazing.”

Anthony Volpe at the Yankees’ team-bonding mini golf tournament as Cortes and Rizzo observe him..

“Everyone’s been where I am in my career and experienced the ups and downs and realized there’s probably an exaggeration or overemphasis on any good or bad I’m feeling. Just to be able to lean on those guys has been really helpful.”

Anthony Volpe called it “frustrating” because he didn’t score any early successes, but he didn’t alter his approach.

“I definitely tried to not change anything and put too much into the results,” he said. “I felt like if the results weren’t there and I was chasing then I’d be worried where I was at. When I knew I wasn’t doing anything like that and adjusting and staying within myself, I knew I was going to be OK.”

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