Yankees relish Anthony Volpe booster, infield depth

Yankees infield strength to get Volpe boost.
John Allen
Monday September 12, 2022

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New York – The Yankees have high hopes from Anthony Volpe. This was made clear on Sunday prior to their game against the second-placed AL East competitor the Rays. As rain delayed the game and fans wait for its start, the Jumbotron at Yankee Stadium displayed a video showcasing Volpe, a top prospect for New York.

With injury taking a toll on the Yankees’ lineup, the team looks at budding starts, such as the 21-year-old New Jersey native. They have already called up prospects Oswald Peraza and promoted Volpe to Triple-A at their affiliate RailRiders.

A shortstop, Volpe reigns as the Yankees’ best prospect. Since he was moved up to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on September 2, he has done well there. In eight games, he has hit.314 with two home runs. Some people are wondering how much more experience Volpe still needs before he can take over as the Yankees’ shortstop of the future.

Even though the Yankees have had a lot of injuries, they have a surprising amount of depth in the infield right now. Josh Donaldson, the third baseman, recently missed a few games because he was on the paternity list. Anthony Rizzo, the first baseman, is on the injured list because of spinal problems. DJ LeMahieu, the versatile outfielder, is also out after hurting his toe.

However, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who hit a grand slam against the Twins, is already on the reckoning. Kiner-Falefa has been the main starting shortstop for the team, but he has also filled in at the third base. Once hated by the fans in New York, he has emerged on the stage. The player had a Gold Glove in 2020 for Texas.

Oswald Peraza was called up to the September roster. Peraza is a top shortstop prospect like Volpe. He has started five matches at shortstop and one game at second base.

Oswaldo Cabrera has emerged as a perfect utility player. Cabrera’s defense has made him a regular on highlight reels. He has played second base, third base, shortstop, and right field, and he is learning how to play first base.

Even though he possesses a light bat, veteran Marwin Gonzalez has been valuable to the team this season. He has played every position on the field except for center field and catcher.

When asked about how versatile New York is, LeMahieu answered that the game demands depth in strength and players who can take any role. Because of this, the Yankees can move players around to deal with injuries or take advantage of matchups, which is a huge advantage for a team with 15 players on the injured list.

Kiner-Falefa said that having players move around the diamond can be hard, but it also gives you a chance. It gives you more chances to play and more “at-bats.”

Since being called up, neither Peraza nor Cabrera has done well at the plate. However, Cabrera hit his first home run in the Yankees‘ 10-4 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday, which pushed the Yankees’ division lead back up to five and a half games. But even though Cabrera and Peraza haven’t done much on offense so far, they have given the Yankees some energy at a time when they weren’t playing well.

“Both of them seemed very, very prepared coming up,” LeMahieu told. He added, “Aggressive, loose, no fear; it’s hard to do when you just get called up; they’ve both added a lot to our team already, so it’s been great watching them play.”

Since his first game on August 17, Cabrera has had a lot of chances to play because he can play almost any position well. Soon after being called up, he moved around the infield, but since August 29, he has only played on the right field. This is the same time that outfielder Andrew Benintendi was put on the injured list with a broken wrist.

Cabrera, who had never played first base or the outfield before this season, said, “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and I’ll be ready to play first base when they need me to.”

While Cabrera’s ability to change quickly could help him stay in the Bronx, Peraza’s natural position as a shortstop has raised short-term and long-term questions about his fit because of the focus on Volpe, who is ready to play.

Some Yankees fans are disappointed that Peraza hasn’t fully passed Kiner-Falefa on the shortstop depth chart, even though Kiner-Falefa joined the team as a stopgap. Peraza has only played other positions 111 times in his career, including 10 Triple-A games.

However, the Yankees already have LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, who is a two-time All-Star and hit two home runs on Sunday.

There will always be an odd man (or two) out, and Torres’ name came up before and after the trading deadline on August 2 this season. LeMahieu is signed through 2026, and he hopes to be back for the Yankees’ next homestand.

Kiner-Falefa can see that his time as the team’s starting shortstop is coming to an end. He has had a rough season at the plate, though he has had a few big hits recently. Some fans have criticized his defense, even though many advanced metrics show he is well above average there. He won’t be a free agent until 2024, so the Yankees could use him as a utility player even if Volpe or Peraza were ready to play shortstop full-time.

If that is the case, Kiner-Falefa believes he would do well in that role with the Yankees so long as they are successful.

“My thing is to just help the team win,” Kiner-Falefa answered when asked and continued, “If those guys come up, and they play shortstop and they make the team better, it is what it is. I’m here to help the team win, so whatever they need me to do, as long as we have a winning vision, it makes it a lot easier to move around and be that kind of player. I think we just need to win, and it makes everything a lot easier.”

Do you agree about the depth in the Yankees’ squad? When will Anthony Volpe get his MLB cap?

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