The Yankees went for the hometown talent.
Anthony Volpe – the star shortstop from Delbarton School in New Jersey – was the Yankees’ first round pick, 30th overall, in the 2019 MLB Draft Monday night. Volpe, who’s committed to Vanderbilt University, is also teammates with another player some speculated could be on the Yankees radar: Al Leiter’s son, Jack, who is also committed to Vanderbilt.
Considered a strong defensive infielder with good baseball instincts, Volpe was the ninth shortstop selected in the first 30 picks. The righthanded hitter batted .488 in 84 at-bats in his final high school season, with 17 stolen bases and 34 RBIs. Maybe a touch undersized at 5-11, 180 pounds, Volpe is nonetheless ranked as the 52nd overall prospect by Baseball America.
He ran a 6.62 60, according to Perfect Game, putting him in the top seven percentile. Perfect Game also called him a “very polished defensive infielder with all the actions, advanced footwork and balance,” along with “very quick transfer and release” of the ball. He also has the ability to play all over the infield, and could be a good fit at second base, since he has just around average arm strength. He’s known for his work ethic, range and instincts, though, so it is feasible he continue to develop at his natural position.
Volpe is a predominantly line-drive hitter with some potential for power, and can spray the ball all over the field.
Based on his tweets, he also seems to be a Yankee fan as well – with messages directed to both Didi Gregorius (a thumbs down emoji, from back when that was a good thing) and the Yankees’ Twitter account, celebrating a Yankees win.
Volpe helped the USA under-18 team win a gold medal in 2018, and MLB Pipeline described him as a player who is greater than the sum of his parts. He has a “solid approach at the plate with excellent bat control,” according to an MLB.com report, and while not a power hitter, has enough pop in his bat to keep pitchers honest.
“Because of his track record for performing well against good competition and his makeup, it might be wrong to bet against Volpe,” according to MLB Pipeline. “Whether a team is willing to draft him early enough to sign him away from his commitment to Vanderbilt, where he could continue being teammates with Leiter if neither signs, remains to be seen.”
Other Yankees selections from Day 1 of MLB Draft
Round: Competitive balance round A, from Reds via trade
Pick: 38th overall
Sikkema joins the likes of Max Scherzer and Kyle Gibson as one of 13 Missouri pitchers to be selected in the first five rounds of the draft since 2003. The 20-year-old lefthander went 7-4 with a 1.32 ERA, 0.959 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 17 appearances, including 13 starts, in his junior season. According to MLB.com, Sikkema “has one of the higher floors among college pitchers in this draft, projecting as at least a lefty reliever at the major league level, and his deception and conviction could carry him to a role at the back of a rotation.”
Pick: 67th overall
After playing in just six games as a sophomore last season because of a stress reaction in a lumbar vertebra, Smith emerged as LSU’s best hitter in 2019. He has slashed .346/.436/.533 with nine home runs, 41 RBIs, 68 runs and 20 stolen bases this season as LSU heads into the Super Regionals against Florida State this weekend. “He doesn’t have a true plus tool, but he also doesn’t have a glaring weakness, and he has a high floor as a good bet to become at least a utilityman,” per MLB.com. Smith started out as a third baseman with the Tigers but has played shortstop this season. Many scouts project him to move to second base at the major-league level, according to MLB.com.