New York Yankees star prospect Anthony Volpe has just 12 games of action under his belt as a professional. Across 40 plate appearances, he’s hitting .143 with a .250 OBP, a 12.5% walk rate, and a 30% strikeout rate with a 38 wRC+.
Volpe struggling out of the gate was undoubtedly anticipated, adjusting to a new level of talent. However, the Yankees will give their top young a long leash at shortstop, where he’s been more than adequate defensively.
The Yankees need to play into Anthony Volpe’s mental fortitude:
Volpe’s offensive metrics have been the more pressing issue, but it is possible they haven’t played into his confidence, which is an important mental component. When Volpe is feeling good and making quality contact, things begin to fall his way, but the Yankees have been hiding him at the bottom of the order to take pressure away when they should be putting pressure on him to perform.
Just as the Yankees did with Derek Jeter back in 1996, he started his professional career batting 9th in the lineup, eventually working his way up to the lead-off spot. For the first time this season, Volpe enjoyed batting first against the Cleveland Guardians, smacking a double in his first at-bat, just barely missing a homer.
In fact, Volpe didn’t strike out for the first time since the regular season’s second game, making quality contact and putting the ball in play routinely. The 21-year-old infielder hosts a26.1% hard-hit and 8.7% barrel rates with a maximum exit velocity of 102.1 mph. His 24.4° of launch ankle certainly suggests he’s trying to elevate the ball and get it out of the park, swinging with more gusto and strength. At first, you could tell Volpe was trying to make contact with weaker swings, but he’s trying to add the power element back to his game, which has produced results over the past few days.
With that being said, the best way to get value out of Volpe is to put pressure on him. He responds well to challenges, just as we saw during spring training when he stole the shortstop job away from Oswald Peraza, who had it all that locked up.
Letting him lead off and putting additional pressure on him to succeed may actually be a beneficial move, just as we saw on Wednesday afternoon.
With DJ LeMahieu dealing with a quad injury and Gleyber Torres still nursing a groin issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if Volpe leads off once again on Thursday night against the Minnesota Twins.