When the New York Yankees made Anthony Volpe their starting shortstop after spring training, the discourse was pleasant but also possessed elements of caution. Brian Cashman, who never expedites a prospect's timeline, was going all in with somebody who was considered to be "the guy" ever since he broke out in 2021.
Never mind his limited experience in Triple-A. Never mind his early-season struggles in 2022 at Double-A Somerset. This kid just tattooed major league pitching and vastly out-performed his peer in fellow top prospect Oswald Peraza this spring. Volpe's combination of power and speed left many believing he had very little to prove at Triple-A.
And that's probably still the case! Sure, Volpe has seemed overmatched at times in the bigs this season and his strikeout rate has never been good, but he's hit nine homers and stolen 14 bases in 67 games. Before his slump that began in mid-May, he was working walks and displaying a patient eye while mixing in aggression when he felt he could attack a pitch early in the count.
The talent is there. His home run at Dodger Stadium was a majestic blast for the national audience to see. When he turned on Blue Jays reliever Nate Pearson's 99 MPH cutting in to give the Yanks a huge insurance run on the road that eventually helped them to a win, fans were impressed.
Nobody expected the 21-year-old (at the time, he's now 22) to be a finished product. But it was evident the Yankees needed to proceed carefully, ensuring that his development would be as linear as possible. Volpe needed to be protected. But as of right now, the Yankees are failing. And this is on the coaching staff to fix.
Yankees are stuck with the decision they made on Anthony Volpe
If Volpe wasn't ready, that's a mistake by the organization -- one they probably just have to live with, since demoting him to the minor leagues wouldn't do him any good. That could put an irreversible dent in his confidence. Plus, what else could he learn in Scranton? The only "plus" would be getting him out of the spotlight as he's struggling so he can get a reset of sorts.
If Volpe was ready and the result has been the young slugger cratering to become one of the worst full-time players in MLB, then perhaps that's on Aaron Boone for bouncing him around from the leadoff spot (25 games) to the No. 7 (13 games) and No. 9 (21 games) holes. Maybe it's on hitting coach Dillon Lawson for not yet identifying what the last two national broadcasts were able to when talking about Volpe swinging his hips open far too early.
- March/April - .217/.333/.337 with 11 runs scored, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 SBs, 16 BB, 31 Ks in 29 games
- May - .174/.216/.376 with 12 runs scored, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SBs, 5 BB, 37 Ks in 29 games
- June - .120/.154/.240 with 1 run scored, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB, 1 BB, 9 Ks in 9 games
The book is far from closed on the month of June, but you see the clear decline with the exception of his power numbers from April into May.
The Yankees knew what they were getting into when they elevated Volpe. They knew the baseball world would have eyes on him at all times. He's a Jersey kid taking over the shortstop position for the most historic franchise in the sport. Every layup comparison you could imagine has been articulated.
And they had an easy out. They could have made Peraza the Opening Day starter, let Volpe develop a bit more in Triple-A, and then eventually bring him up when injuries plagued the roster (you knew that was happening by mid-April) or if Peraza underperformed (since nobody would've cared if he got demoted, as the headlines wouldn't have been nearly as harsh or magnified).
Instead, rival fans are looking at Volpe's Baseball-Reference and Savant page wondering why Yankees fans were hyping this guy up for years. And the second he gets the demotion, it'll be the laughingstock topic on social media. And again, the Yankees, unless they have no idea how the world operates, knew this would be the case.
It's on them to fix it. It's really upsetting that it's hard to trust them to do so, but even the fans have no choice but to do so. Hopefully it's as easy as hitting strikes hard. That would be nice.