Anthony Volpe puts a strong claim to become Yankees’ starting shortstop

Michael Bennington
Thursday March 9, 2023

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Anthony Volpe‘s performance at the Yankees spring training is getting a lot of attention. He hit a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates and then hit a double against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees’ top prospect came to the camp fueled by a phone call he reportedly had with GM Brian Cashman, in which Cashman told Anthony Volpe that he was in the running to start at shortstop on Opening Day.

Now everyone is asking if Anthony Volpe, MLB’s No. 5 overall prospect, will make New York’s Opening Day roster.

But this may not have even been on anyone’s mind when camp started on February 20, but the Yankees’ top prospect’s hot start in the Grapefruit League has a lot of people asking that question right now. The 21-year-old shortstop has hit .353/.450/.647 in his first six games. Anthony Volpe has a home run, two doubles, five runs scored, three walks, and three stolen bases.

“I think he’s got all the tools,” said Aaron Judge about Anthony Volpe following the Wednesday’s game. “He checks a lot of boxes defensively, offensively. He’s got the speed… My thing has always been, if you’re the best player, it shouldn’t matter your age. You should be up helping the New York Yankees.”

Aaron Boone has said since the first day of spring training that the Yankees wouldn’t mind selecting Anthony Volpe as the starting shortstop choice if he could show that he was ready to be in that position.

“It’s hard to answer what the criteria are,” Boone said after the game. “But we’re paying attention.”

“He’s a good player,” Boone said. “I can’t say I’m surprised, because I think we all expected him to handle it all well. Just a good player that loves the game that’s into the game that’s into all the little things about the game.”

The 21-year-old has given people a lot to think about in the first week of Grapefruit League games.

On Saturday, Anthony Volpe started at shortstop for the Yankees in their 14-10 loss to the Rays at Steinbrenner Field. He hit a double off the wall in left field and a line drive to third base that turned into a double play.

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

The 21-year-old is 6-for-17 (.353) with a home run, two doubles, and two stolen bases. Anthony Volpe has also made a number of impressive defensive plays at both shortstop and second base. The man from New Jersey is in a position to battle with incumbent Isiah Kiner-Falefa and another candidate, Oswald Peraza.

When asked if there was any way Anthony Volpe could break camp with the team without hurting someone else, Boone said, “Sure, yeah.”

Kiner-Falefa was the incumbent when spring training started. But Peraza’s one-month cameo at the end of last season made a big impression. Many people think Anthony Volpe has the most potential out of the three, but he spent most of last year at Double-A Somerset and only played 22 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

When asked about Anthony Volpe’s lack of Triple-A experience and a total number of professional at-bats (1,259), Boone said that would be one of the things that would go into the final decision.

“It’s all things we talk about as a group and as we get towards the end of spring and we’re starting to make the decisions about rosters and stuff, there’ll be a lot of voices that have thoughts and opinions,” Boone said. “That’s part of his case and the case against and story. Yeah, it’s all part of the equation that you gotta make a decision on at some point.”

Anthony Volpe was named the hitting prospect of the year by MLB Pipelines in 2021 when he hit .294/.423/.604 with 27 home runs and 86 RBI.

The shortstop had a slow start to 2022, which led to his slash line of .249/.342/.460. But he hit 21 home runs and stole 50 bases, which was a record in the MiLB first after Braves legend Andruw Jones‘ 1995 exploits. From May 14 to September 8, Anthony Volpe hit 289/.377/.532, which got him a promotion to Triple-A.

The Yankees still have more than three weeks before they have to decide, and a lot could happen in that time.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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