Top 100 NYY Prospects: Anthony Volpe
Across the "Big-4" prospect sites is that the Yankees have 3 Top-100 prospects this year. Let's take a look at each of them:
Past Prospect List Performances:
Even though he was considered one of the better high school prospects heading into the 2019 MLB First Year Player Draft, and even though he was taken as a first round draft pick by the New York Yankees, it took a few years for Anthony Volpe to emerge as a top prospect.
This is due to how Volpe had a poor start to his professional career in 2019, when he hit just .215 over 34 games in Rookie ball. And then, the entire 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19, which prevented Volpe from being able to fix the fluky start late in 2019. Him having the tools wasn't a concern, but the lack of playing time to showcase them and the poor performance was.
However, after a dominant 2021 season it was no surprise that Anthony Volpe immediately shot up prospect boards. It was shocking however to see just how high one great season was for his stock. Then again, over 109 games between A and A+ ball, he did produce to an OPS over 1.000 with a .294 AVG and 27 home runs. This not only got Volpe onto all of the "Big 4" prospect lists- MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Fangraphs- ahead of the 2022 season, but he instantly was a Top-15 prospect. This is how he did:
2022: MLB Pipeline (#8), Baseball America (#10), Baseball Prospectus (#14), Fangraphs (#12)
Last season, Volpe did see a step back offensively, but this was not necessarily a negative on his game because he still managed to produce respectable numbers while also moving up the two hardest steps on the MiLB ladder: Double-A and Triple-A. Combined, he had a .249 AVG over 132 games. The future is bright and his stock is very promising. The question is if it was too hyped up from one- albeit otherworldly- lower minor league season.
2023 Top-100 Prospect Biography, Rankings, & Write-Ups:
This year, Volpe has continued to be a mainstay in the upper echelon of the prospect lists, and even with a subpar season last year did even see mostly increases to his pre-season placement.
2023: MLB Pipeline (#5), Baseball America (#14), Baseball Prospectus (#7), Fangraphs (#11)
And here are the write-ups from each publication:
MLB Pipeline: (Link) - Ranked 5th
Age/D.O.B.: 21 Years Old/April 28th, 2001
Height/Weight: 5'11"/180 Pounds
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 60
"After teaming with future No. 2 overall pick Jack Leiter to lead the Delbarton School (Morristown, N.J.) to a state non-public Class A championship in 2019, Volpe turned down the opportunity to join him at Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees for $2,740,300 as the No. 30 overall choice. Mononucleosis contributed to a lackluster pro debut that summer before he used the pandemic layoff in 2020 to rework his swing and add strength. He has been a different player since, winning MLB Pipeline's Hitting Prospect of the Year award in 2021 and encoring last season by recovering from a slow start to become the first 20-homer, 50-steal Minor Leaguer since Andruw Jones in 1995.
Volpe stood out as much for his intangibles as his tools when he entered pro ball, but that's no longer the case after he transformed himself physically. He still has as much pure hitting ability as anyone in the system, but he now has a right-handed stroke geared for loft and produces high exit velocities and power to all fields. He struggled at times against sliders in 2022 and occasionally looked like he was trying to do too much at the plate, but he made adjustments over the course of the year.
Volpe's work ethic and instincts continue to allow him to get the most out of his physical ability. His solid speed and aggressive nature on the bases led to 50 steals in 57 attempts last season. The lone question is whether his finely tuned internal clock can help him stay at shortstop with average range and arm strength (albeit with a quick release) that may be better suited for second base."
Baseball America: (Link; sub. req.) - Ranked #62
(Unfortunately, I cannot share the entire details of the Baseball America write-up as it is behind a paywall. However, I can share a small blurb from each:)
"Volpe came back down to Earth a bit in 2022, but he still rose to Triple-A as a 21-year-old while showing solid offensive ability and an advanced feel for the game. His Bronx debut should come in 2023."
Baseball Prospectus: (Link; sub. req.) - Ranked #48
(Unfortunately, I cannot share the details of the Baseball Prospectus write-up as it is behind a paywall, nor did they supply a small blurb.)
Fangraphs: (Link) - Ranked #50
Height/Weight: 5'11"/180 Pounds
Scouting Grades: Hit (45/55) | Raw Power (55/55) | Game Power (45/60) | Run (45/40) | Fielding (40/45) | Throw (45) | Future Value (60)
"Volpe’s uppercut swing will allow him to get to impact power for a middle infielder.
Drafted as a glove-first shortstop prospect, Volpe had a uninspiring professional debut, but he totally transformed himself during the lost pandemic season and returned in 2021 with one of the best campaigns in all of the minor leagues, slugging .604 across two levels. After a slow start to 2022, Volpe hit .273/.355/.502 with Double-A Somerset from May through August and earned a late-season call up to Scranton. He’s poised to start his age-22 season at Triple-A and likely make his big league debut at some point in 2023, perhaps usurping Gleyber Torres as the everyday second baseman if it becomes clear that Volpe is a superior offensive option.
Working with a private instructor on a daily basis during the pandemic, Volpe completely re-engineered his swing, which now produces impact power, especially for a middle infielder. You’ve probably seen big league hitters use a “toe tap,” or heard broadcasters use that phrase. Well, Volpe’s swing starts with what is best described as a “heel tap” of his rear leg, as he loads all his weight onto his back side before he strides forward and swings with verve and ferocity. The swing changes that helped enable his breakout created a bat path built to lift the ball to the extreme, and Volpe’s average launch angle was a whopping 24 degrees last year. His swing is like a right-handed version of Juan Soto’s, capable of getting underneath the baseball in basically every part of the zone, in part because of the flexibility and athleticism in his lower half.
Even though he’s been on a throwing program to strengthen his arm, Volpe still doesn’t have the hose typical of a big league shortstop. If he had somehow improved his throwing (which isn’t terrible — he could play short in an emergency), he’d still be behind Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in this regard and would end up at second base anyway. As Volpe has added strength and mass, the trunk of his body has thickened substantially and impacted his defensive mobility a bit. His second base defense could trend down as he gets deeper into his 20s, but he should be fine there for a while. Volpe’s game power should routinely put him in the mix for All-Star teams for as long as he stays on the middle infield, and he’ll still be a productive everyday player if he moves later in his career."