Anthony Volpe is a promising young baseball player. The New York Yankees‘ 2019 first-round draft pick got his first taste of full-season professional action in 2021 and propelled into the game’s top prospect lists.
Though Yankees fans are excited for what Volpe can eventually bring to the MLB level, it’s just unclear when that will be. And this team’s timeline to win is … right now. The Yankees have been an abject disappointment since 2010 and really cannot afford another embarrassing misstep.
That’s why there was reasonable outrage this offseason when New York opted to pass on every single high-profile shortstop target in free agency despite not having a starting shortstop on the roster with just a few weeks until Opening Day.
Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez signed back in November. Carlos Correa and Trevor Story waited it out to sign this past weekend. And the Yankees ended up with Isiah Kiner-Falefa in a trade with the Twins that actually helped Minnesota clear Josh Donaldson’s heavy contract so they could sign … Correa. Stunning turn of events.
Some might say the Yankees have been outsmarted thus far, but we’d actually argue that they’re just continuing to dig their heels in with Volpe and are sticking to their plan without a care in the world in regard to what anybody else is doing.
Whether you agree with it or not, this development is placing unfair expectations on Volpe, who has appeared in just 143 professional games since being drafted.
Are the Yankees placing unfair expectations on Anthony Volpe?
Though his 132 runs scored, 29 homers, 97 RBI, 39 stolen bases and .954 OPS over that span are wildly impressive, he’s not past High-A yet. A ton of developmental kinks could present themselves before he’s ready for The Show — and that’s not being pessimistic, it’s just what happens so often with young players who are making their way up.
But forget about Volpe making his MLB debut, which seems far enough away to justify the Yankees signing one of the aforementioned stars this offseason. General manager Brian Cashman leaving the shortstop position open is essentially signaling that Volpe will be the team’s starter of the future as well as a franchise cornerstone.
This isn’t Bryce Harper, Juan Soto or Wander Franco we’re talking about. Those guys dealt with near-impossible projections and expectations given the natural hype surrounding them. Those were never attached to Volpe, though. The Yankees did and are continuing to do that, which is hardly ever a positive for a young player with many hurdles left in his journey.
The Yankees don’t want to trade Volpe, which is totally fair. They feel the return won’t be as worthwhile as what he’ll eventually bring under the bright lights. Understandable.
But unofficially coining him the organization’s next great shortstop is beyond unreasonable and, more importantly, unfair to Volpe, who was devoid of such a label until the middle of last season. Don’t forget, this is the same Volpe who had a terrible 34-game debut back in 2019 after being drafted, only for critics to question whether the Yankees reached with their first-round selection.
And here we are, with the narrative doing a complete 180 and then rocketing off into the unknown. Volpe’s ascension from 2019 until now has been considerable and the hope he succeeds remains a delightful narrative in an otherwise negative Yankees universe.
But there are dangers here, and it’ll all come back to the team putting all of their eggs in a prospect’s basket, which you almost never see nowadays, especially in the league’s most financially-robust market.