Yankees betting big on a second-year jump from 22-year old shortstop

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Yankees
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The Yankees have a healthy blend of youth and experienced veteran talent, especially after adding Juan Soto, who is comprised of both. The infield has varying margins of experience, ranging from Anthony Rizzo to 22-year-old Anthony Volpe, who’s looking to take a big step forward in 2024.

Volpe’s Offseason Adjustments

Volpe knows his rookie season was full of learning experiences and corrections. Still, he’s worked diligently this off-season to not only improve his physical shape but also tweak the fundamentals in his swing. First and foremost, Volpe now has a much more even-level swing path, suggesting that he will hit more line drives and make more efficient contact rather than use an uppercut motion that produces flyballs.

“Not a good year offensively at all,” Volpe told the Daily News. “You can’t cherry-pick anything. But looking back, I’m grateful for it. It definitely helped me learn a lot and kind of gave me a foundation of what I went to work on this offseason and this year.”

Yankees’ Optimistic Outlook for Volpe’s Development

Even new hitting Coach James Rowson has seen significant changes in Volpe’s swing, having not actually participated in most of the changes he made this off-season. Volpe has been working diligently over the past few months to keep his head steady and his feet planted, whereas he was losing sight of the ball to generate more power from his lower half, which essentially sacrificed quality of contact for power.

“He deserves all the credit in the world for that,” Rowson told The News. “I saw some video of him from last year and then I got a chance to see him when he was working out in the offseason, and he had already made great strides in correcting some of those things. He looked at the video with some things from last year and then made some adjustments on his own and started working the right way. The swing looks really good right now. Absolutely, his swing path has cleaned up and just continues to get better as we keep going every day.”

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Volpe did manage a 42.7% hard-hit hit rate and 9% barrel rate last season, including a 14.2° launch angle. I expect his launch angle to drop a few degrees as his bat path evens out, but his average exit velocity at 88.7 mph could see an uptick, and his barrel percentage could increase as well. Volpe has the makeup of a great contact hitter who can hit 20+ homers per season, not to mention his athleticism on the base paths.

“I know one thing: once he continues to figure it out and does it consistently, he’s going to be an elite type of hitter. So at that point, it’s just gonna depend on who’s around him, what you want to do, and how you want to use him.”

Volpe’s potential is sky-high, and there’s no questioning his work ethic regarding improvements. With the additions of Soto and Alex Verdugo to the starting lineup, Volpe won’t feel the same pressure he did as a rookie, and that should benefit him and his confidence this upcoming season.

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