The Yankees have their No. 1 prospect back, and he’s red-hot

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees harbored hopes of their No. 1 farm system prospect, Anthony Volpe, quickly overcoming vulnerabilities and weaknesses as he entered his first regular season.

Volpe’s Initial Career Trajectory

Volpe demonstrated a promising start to his MLB career, with a batting average of .222 and an OBP of .333 in April. However, a decline was noted in May. Nonetheless, displaying resilience, Volpe made a dramatic turnaround in June, batting .265 with a .342 OBP, .426 slugging percentage, and .769 OPS.

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Unleashing Volpe’s Minor League Potential

The talent Volpe exhibited while with the Yankees’ minor league affiliates has finally started to flourish at the MLB level. His exceptional plate discipline, sound swing decisions, and mental fortitude propelled him to success during his tenure in High-A and Double-A ball. Volpe’s stellar performance in the latter part of last season justified his advancing past Triple-A after just 22 games at that level.

Manager Boone’s Role in Volpe’s Progression

Manager Aaron Boone advocated vigorously for Volpe’s promotion, a decision that may have been questioned some weeks ago. But Volpe has reversed his fortunes, largely due to modifications in his batting stance, guided by Austin Wells over a chicken parm dinner.

“The last week, if you really dig in, Anthony’s [had] a lot of good at-bats,” Boone said. “He’s been getting more hits, but hitting the ball on the nose. Even his first AB today, lines out to the second baseman. So I feel like he’s making some good, solid adjustments. It’s good to see him trending in a good way right now.”

Volpe’s Current Performance Metrics

Currently, Volpe is batting .212 with a .290 OBP, including 10 homers, 28 RBIs, a team-high 16 stolen bases, and an 85 wRC+. While some of these statistics may not seem impressive, Volpe has drastically improved over the past two weeks.

In the last seven days, Volpe has been slashing .421/.500/.526. Extending the timeframe to the past 15 days, he’s slashing .343/.452/.486 with a .938 OPS. This surge in productivity has been timely for the Yankees, who recently scored heavily against the Oakland Athletics in consecutive games.

The Impact of ‘Chicken Parm’ Saga

The ‘chicken parm saga’ initiated a ripple effect among the Yankees’ fan base. Hitting coach Dillon Lawson overlooked a minor alteration in Volpe’s stance, which resulted from Volpe inadvertently trying to counterbalance early struggles.

Wells identified Volpe’s widened stance and prematurely opening hips, leading to a quick correction. Consequently, Volpe’s batting performance took a positive turn, displaying increased comfort and confidence in the batter’s box.

How Volpe’s Performance Compares to the Team

While Volpe is in fine form, the rest of the team is striving to keep up. The Yankees have witnessed some commendable performances from their veterans against Oakland, the team with the worst pitching record in baseball.

It’s worth noting that the Yankees’ impressive offensive stats may be somewhat inflated due to the inferior quality of their opposition. Despite this, Volpe’s consistent performance for over two weeks hints at a significant shift in his narrative, reinforced by his steady defensive contributions.

This season, Volpe has spent 676 innings at shortstop, demonstrating a .974 fielding percentage with seven errors. He’s accumulated six defensive runs saved with -1 out above average. Despite initial doubts about his defensive capabilities at the highest level, Volpe has proved to be a valuable asset in this department.