Despite the fact that the New York Yankees started top prospect Anthony Volpe at the bottom of the batting order, that role was always going to change.
Volpe is the team’s lead-off hitter of the future, but DJ LeMahieu’s hot start to the 2023 season suggested they needed him in that role. Volpe has been quickly adjusting to the MLB and the differences in pitching quality. Having started slow and experienced a few tough at-bats, Anthony is starting to see the ball far more efficiently and make quality contact.
The Yankees have been utilizing Volpe as their lead-off man far more frequently, especially with injuries mounting across the board. Giancarlo Stanton heading to the injured list and Josh Donaldson rehabilitating from a hamstring injury have forced the Yankees to utilize LeMahieu in the middle of their order, pushing Volpe to the top, where he’s been quite solid.
The Yankees saw Anthony Volpe’s quality on Tuesday:
Against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, Volpe toughed out two walks and recorded an RBI with one of them — the bases were loaded. On the season, he’s hitting just .180 with a .317 OBP, but he’s tallied five hits, two RBIs, and five walks across his last six games, showing big improvements
In fact, manager Aaron Boone is already considering him as their lead-off man moving forward, which is a great sign. Batting 9th this season, Volpe is hitting .167 with a .302 OBP across 36 at-bats. Batting first, though, he’s hitting .214 with a .353 OBP and .853 OPS, and while the sample size is smaller, he looks far more confident getting hittable pitches ahead of Aaron Judge.
“That’s certainly possible,” Boone said Tuesday, per the NY Post. “It’s that way again today and we’ll see moving forward. I potentially like that.”
Controlling the strike zone is the name of the game for Volpe, who has displayed tremendous discipline and swing decisions over the past few days. The expectation was always that it would take him a few weeks if not months, to adjust, but that process is moving along far quicker than originally anticipated.
“His DNA is: Control the strike zone,” Boone said. “I think when he really gets rolling, you’re going to see that at a really high level. I think even these first couple weeks when he hasn’t been on fire yet, you still see that in there, his ability to lay off pitches. So I think he’s cut out for that. Obviously you add the speed mix to it, but yeah, I think he has it all in there. Whether he’s hitting ninth or hitting first, I think the heartbeat, between the ears, he’s equipped to handle it all.”
When batting in the first inning, Volpe is hitting .500 with a .500 OBP, collecting two hits over four at-bats. The majority of his sample size is small when categorized by inning, but Volpe feeds off of the pressure, something he showcases during spring training when he beat Oswald Peraza outright for the starting shortstop job.
Given his obvious progression, the Yankees must continue giving Volpe more opportunities to feature in prominent spots. Luckily, Boone is already keen on handing over the lead-off spot to his top prospect.