Anthony Volpe was discussed in Tampa.
The Yankees’ top prospect entered camp riding the motivation of a phone call between himself and GM Brian Cashman, where he was told he was in the mix to start at shortstop for the Yankees on Opening Day.
The 21-year-old is 6-for-17 (.353) with a homer, two doubles, two stolen bases and has made a number of sparkling defensive plays at both shortstop and second base. The New Jersey native is in the thick of a battle of position trying to fend off incumbent Isiah Kiner-Falefa and fellow prospect Oswald Peraza.
However, if the club captain’s opinion holds water, Volpe may have an edge in the competition.
“I think he’s got all the tools,” Aaron Judge said after Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals at the Yankees’ spring complex. “He checks a lot of boxes defensively, offensively. He’s got the speed… My thing has always been, if you’re the best player, your age shouldn’t matter. You should help the New York Yankees.”
Because of Volpe’s absence from Triple-A at-bats — 99 total in 2022 — the odds have been and may still be stacked against him breaking camp, with the Bombers listing Peraza — who started the postseason in the 2022 ALCS — as the favorite .
And it’s clear Volpe is impressing the right people in spring camp.
“He’s a good player,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday. “I can’t say I’m surprised because I think we all expected him to do well. Just a good player who loves the game who is in the game, who is into all the little things about the game…
“We’re paying attention.”
Volpe was named the MLB Pipelines hitting prospect of the year in 2021 when he slashed .294/.423/.604 with 27 homers and 86 RBI.
The shortstop got off to a slow start in 2022, leading to his .249/.342/.460 slash line. However, he totaled 21 homers and stole 50 bases, the first minor leaguer to reach those marks since Braves legend Andruw Jones in 1995, and hit 289/.377/.532 from May 14 to on September 8, earning a promotion to Triple-. A during the process.
The Yankees’ shortstop competition numbers will come down to the wire and Volpe has forced himself right into the middle of the conversation.