The New York Yankees have been waiting patiently for Anthony Volpe to arrive at the MLB level. While he has the green light to compete for the starting shortstop job during spring training, the expectation is he will start the season with AAA in Scranton.
Volpe is well on his way to being promoted during the 2023 season, but Oswald Peraza having more Major League experience and spending last season in AAA gives him a leg up to win the job.
Nonetheless, the Yankees’ top prospect has all the tools to be a tremendous professional player, consisting of power, quality defense, and remarkable contact-hitting capabilities. In fact, Volpe landed a stellar ranking on ESPN’s top-100 prospect list.
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Kylie McDaniel ranked Volpe 3rd, behind Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles and Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
There’s both a little prospect fatigue with Volpe and some revised defensive expectations as he’s really improved the power part of his game. As a prep draft prospect in 2019, Volpe was seen as a skills-over-tools type with good makeup that was a likely big leaguer, but without big upside in large part because of the power ceiling due to his size (listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.).Via Kiley McDaniels of ESPN.
The Yankees should be excited about Anthony Volpe’s growth:
Volpe is coming off a year where he played 110 games in AA and 22 games in AAA. With Somerset, he hit .251 with a .348 OBP, 18 homers, 60 RBIs, and 44 stolen bases. However, his numbers were dragged down by a slow start but dominated once June rolled around. He hit .298 with a .360 OBP during that month, just before his numbers took another significant step in the right direction. In July, he hit .296 with a .416 OBP, five homers, and nine RBIs with seven stolen bases.
Smacking 18 homers for Somerset and three in 22 games with Scranton suggests he’s found his groove as a power hitter, but he only struck out at 17.7% in AA. That number skyrocketed to 30.3% once he joined Scranton, but the sample size is too small to make legitimate conclusions. Volpe has demonstrated improvement with more experience and consistency, which is why starting with Scranton in 2023 makes the most sense.
McDaniel believes he can play an average defensive shortstop, which could lead him to second base, a much easier defensive position where he can thrive alongside Oswald Peraza.
On the other hand, I think he’ll be good enough to play an average shortstop (sliding over if the Bombers have a true plus defender to force him to shift over) and deliver an above average on-base percentage with a chance for 25-30 homers. He might not be able to do all three of those, but even just two of the three means he ends up like Bichette, Adames, or Bogaerts, who last year put up 4.5, 4.7, and 6.1 WAR, respectively.
One way or another, manager Aaron Boone will call Volpe up at some point this upcoming year. It’s just a matter of when and why. If the Yankees don’t need Volpe immediately, they can continue to provide him with regular playing time in Scranton.
Unless they find it justifiable to move Gleyber Torres before the trade deadline and Peraza is performing well at shortstop, he could find his way to second base, which is my projection over the next few months. Based on Peraza’s elite defensive qualities, Volpe will likely take over for Torres at 2B, which seems like the most realistic outcome.