The Yankees’ Anthony Volpe Is ‘Built For New York’

LOS ANGELES – Going into this season, the Yankees have had a hole when it comes to short lanes. Gleyber Torres has struggled there and is moving back to second base. The Yankees got lucky, however, as the freelance class of foretold misses was hitting the freelance market: Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Javier Báez were all former Alls. -Stars, and three of them won the World Series.

The Yankees turned them all over, trading them in to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a puncher certainly not known for his stick.

Why? The team was hungry to improve its defense and the prices of the free agents were phenomenal. Kiner-Falefa, who was under the team’s control for two seasons, is making $4.7 million this year, while Correa, Seager, Story and Báez each signed on to pay them $23.3 million. la or more per year. With $35.1 million for this season, Correa is the second-highest-paid player in baseball.

But Hal Steinbrenner, general managing partner of the Yankees, said in March that there is another reason to stay away from top talent: “We have two potential clients that I’m happy to have the opportunity to. “

One of those prospects is Anthony Volpe, seen by many as the short way into the organization’s future.

During the annual Futures Game, an exhibition of the sport’s top prospects held in the lead-up to the League Baseball All-Star Game Tuesday, Volpe had the opportunity to show off the skills he dreams of one day competing in the Bronx.

“It’s obviously great to hear from someone like that,” Volpe said of Steinbrenner’s comments ahead of Saturday’s game, in which he drew 0 to 2 and made all games. Defensively at a loss for three innings.

“I feel I have a long way to go and this is clearly a big step in my career, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he continued. “Even if I hope to get there one day, there’s still a lot of work to be done to become the player I want to be and hopefully win a lot of rings here.”

Volpe, 21, sincerely means so. That seems too good to be true: He’s a die-hard Yankees fan who grew up in Morristown, NJ, a town 40 miles west of Yankee Stadium, and he adores Derek Jeter, former player and captain of the Yankees’ Hall of Fame. He attended Jeter’s last All-Star Game, in 2014, with his father, as well as Futures Game that year. As a child and now a Yankees prospect, Volpe frequently took pictures of himself playing a shortstop at Yankee Stadium, just like his idol.

“That’s the end goal that I’m working on and am very excited about,” he said.

The Yankees picked Volpe, a listed right-hander 5 feet 11 inches tall and 180 pounds, from Delbarton School with a 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft, and they lured him out of his academic commitment. college at Vanderbilt University with a $2.7 million signing bonus.

“People don’t really know this story, but when he was enlisted, he wouldn’t talk to any team in his senior year of high school just because he was only interested in winning the state championship. ,” midfielder Max Burt, one of Volpe’s closest friends at Class AA Somerset. “And that is exactly what he did. Winning is a priority for him.”

Volpe’s first full season in the minor leagues isn’t until 2021 as the pandemic canceled the previous season. In 109 games, he hit 0.294 with 27 home runs and 1,027 slip-on-base plus miss rate. Playing 30 minutes from his home country with Somerset this season, Volpe has started slowly but has been on a slump since early June, bringing his season total to 0.253 with 12 home runs and 0.812. OPS over 77 games.

“He was built for New York,” Burt said. “He was built to play under bright lights. It’s clear from this area that he gets a lot of media and attention on a daily basis, and he’s handled it brilliantly. “

Playing so close to where he grew up has its perks: Volpe lives in his childhood home – but with a few new friends. His Somerset teammates caught Austin Wells (the Yankees’ first choice in 2020), quarterbacks Blake Perkins and Burt were also there throughout the season. Volpe said his mother cooks for them and that after Sunday’s home game, the whole team will be invited to attend.

“It was a great atmosphere to play and then come home to see the family,” he said, adding later, “It was a fun year.”

On the court, Somerset director Dan Fiorito said, Volpe combines discipline on the disc, strength, clubbing, strong defense and speed on the points. Volpe swept 33 bases last season and has had more (35) through fewer games this year.

“He’s already way beyond the game at just 21 years old,” Fiorito said via email, “and we’re all very excited for his future.”

Volpe added: “I just turned 21 this year and I don’t think there’s a 21-year-old in the world who can’t get better at everything. It’s really hitting, defending, just all the game. I just want to keep learning and really never stop.”

But ask Yankees officials and Volpe’s teammates about him and one of the most common topics is his demeanor. Fiorito says it’s rare to find leaders in such young players and that Volpe is a “relentless competitor”. Burt said his friend has the same attitude whether he’s 0 to 4 with 4 attacks or 4 to 4 with 4 home runs.

“The way he goes about his business, the way he leads in that club, the way he impacts his teammates in a really positive way, the way he interacts with the fans ,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. “I mean, he has that ‘it’ element. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s the best description I can give. You have five tools that you’re trying to sort out, then you do the performance, and then you get that extra piece of equipment, which is the makeup.

“And he has that extra device. That comes with the package, and that’s credit to his mom and dad. He is going to be a successful player at the highest level, and we certainly would love to be by our side.”

The decision to bet on Kiner-Falefa, who is from Hawaii but also grew up watching the Yankees and wants to be like Jeter, has proven New York’s worth this season. Along with other upgrades, he helped make the Yankees the best baseball team ever. Entering Sunday, they have a record of 63-28 and a 12½ game lead in the US Eastern Pro League.

There was a kid from New Jersey who loved Jeter and hoped he could one day do the same.

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