Yankees’ Anthony Volpe’s hype just hit new level with No. 1 prospect debate

Just one year ago, Yankees fans were dealing with the repercussions of having their 2020 season stolen from them, completely unable to evaluate their farm system and stuck knowing next to nothing about Anthony Volpe, their 2019 first-rounder.

Was he an all-glove, no-bat shortstop? Was he projectible, or was he selected only to increase the Yankees’ extremely small chances of signing Jack Leiter, Al’s son and Volpe’s high school teammate who eventually went second overall to the Texas Rangers in 2021?

As it turned out, Volpe answered the bell so resoundingly in 2021 that he not only answered any questions the fan base had about him, but elevated the level of questioning spectacularly for 2022.

People are no longer asking, “Is Volpe a real prospect?” Now, they’re asking, “Should the Yankees really be considering Carlos Correa when they have Volpe waiting behind him?”

That’s what happens when you’re suddenly in the running for the No. 1 overall prospect in the game after being largely anonymous the previous year.

According to MLB Pipeline’s latest discussion, Volpe and Padres SS CJ Abrams are the two leading contenders to be the No. 1 overall prospect in the game at the end of the 2022 season.

“Who ya got?” Is there even an incorrect answer here? What a meteoric rise for the Yankees, who haven’t had a position player prospect in this stratosphere in forever.

Could Yankees SS Anthony Volpe be the No. 1 prospect in baseball next winter?

According to long-time expert Jim Callis, now with MLB and formerly of Baseball America, Volpe is the safer bet than Abrams to scale the mountain in his year-end prospect rankings.

In fact, he foresees a Bobby Witt Jr.-like season for Volpe, which would be the next level of the prospect stratosphere — and, for what it’s worth, fellow prospect expert Sam Dykstra predicted that Witt Jr. would be his 2022 AL Rookie of the Year. We’d, uh, take that accolade, too.

“I don’t think there’s any way Anthony Volpe gets to the big leagues this year. At least not enough to release his rookie status. … This is a guy who just had an unbelievable year. Among the Minor League leaders in just about every category: 27 homers, 33 steals. I think he could wind up having that year again, very similar to what Bobby Witt Jr. just had … and he might be in the running for Pipeline Hitter of the Year, too.”

This offseason, Volpe is in rarefied air, an entirely different atmosphere than what he managed to poke his way into when 2021 began.

If you’re a Volpe believer, that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from also wanting Correa or Trevor Story. There’s nothing wrong with getting good players and figuring out the fit later, especially since nobody’s positive whether Volpe’s a shortstop, second baseman or third baseman yet.

To think we’d be here by January 2022, though, wondering whether Volpe could be the very best that baseball has to offer by the end of the year, is mind-boggling.

The last time the Yankees had a prospect ranked this highly by consensus, it was Joba Chamberlain. That should provide some perspective, but shouldn’t make you any less enthusiastic about the well-loved Volpe. This ride may be only just beginning.