Tampa – Anthony Volpi could prove to be a very valuable trading chip, possibly in July or later.
But a lifelong Yankee fan, who grew up in New Jersey and whose favorite was Derek Jeter, still had the same goal he did as a kid, when he wrote in his yearbooks that he wanted to be the best Yankees player.
“My dream was to play for the Yankees and not just be a junior player,” Volpi said on Tuesday. “I can’t control anything that happens from now on, but I will definitely work as hard as I can to try to make that a reality.”
That likely won’t happen until at least 2023, but the 20-year-old is certainly a lot closer to getting there than he was at this point a year ago, when he was entering his first full professional season.
Although plenty of people across the organization are waiting to see if he’s ready to make it into the big business, another prospect at Yankee has been confident Volpi’s major league future for a much longer term.
Pickway, a 22-year-old right-winger who finished last season with Volpi at High-A Hudson Valley, said he’s had a Volpi tied to the majors since before the little player was a teen.
“Oh my God, he was like the greatest player ever,” Way said at the Yankees little camp at the Player Development Complex. “Ultra-fast, ultra-fast [and] hit home.”
The two played against each other on baseball’s GoWags Show, with Way in Harrisburg, Pa. , and Volpe in Watchung, NJ
“I’m much older than him, so he was going to play for our team and hit the ball at home when he was 12 and be perfectly fit,” said Way.
When asked if he thought Volpi had great potential in the league up until then, Way said, “We’ve all been thinking about it. … He showed it.”
The two were teammates together in Hudson Valley a year ago, when Volpe became one of the game’s most valuable potential players.
“It’s bigger and faster now,” Way said. “That is the only difference. But he is in the palace. He must make his way.”
Volpi is looking to continue that process after starting his professional career in 2019, when he was drafted into 30th overall from Delbarton High School and went to Pulaski in the Junior League.
The minor league season was eliminated in 2020, but he made up for lost time by dominating the competition in both Low-A Tampa and then Hudson Valley last year.
He will likely have secured a ticket to Double-A Somerset to start the 2022 season, with another prestigious prospect, Oswald Peraza, expected to be at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Volpe, for his part, insisted he’s not focusing on when he might reach the Bronx.
“It’s hard to think about because I’m very happy to be here at the moment, to see all the players again after the season is over,” Volpi said. “It’s hard for me to think about the future yet.”
Most scouts believe Volpi is at least a year away from the big leagues, although Perazza may have a chance of making his MLB debut later in the year.
General Manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that the presence of both Volpi and Perazza has played a role in how the front office handles the need for a short off-season hiatus, with team executives believing one or both of them could contribute to the majors soon.
Asked how it feels to be on the Yankees’ radar, Volpe said, “I think you’d rather be on the Yankees’ radar than not. I don’t read a lot of that kind of thing. I guess I’d say it’s great for me and Oswald, I feel, [are] Get the look [and] opportunities.”
His most pressing goal for this year is to “have a clean and healthy season; play every game seriously and win as much as possible”.
New batting coach Dillon Lawson, who was previously the organization’s minor league batting coordinator, praised Volpi’s swing “consistency”, his playing and overall demeanor.
As for his approach to the dish, Lawson described it as “ripe.”
“It’s high,” Lawson said. “He has the ability to take a game plan and not get distracted by it. He is ahead of his age.”
Hayden Wisinski, another prospect on the Yankee Show, praised Volpi’s mentality.
“He handles pressure really well,” Wisinski said. “That’s what makes him different. He loves it. I hope no one ruins it for him. You can tell he enjoys it, the way he moves and brings energy every day.”
As for any comparisons anyone might make about him and Jeter, Volpi laughed and said, “There will never be another Jeter.”