As a young shortstop from the tri-state area, there’s no surprise Anthony Volpe gravitated toward Derek Jeter and the Yankees. But now that he’s a first-round selection by the Yankees, the 18-year-old is only worried about focusing on the daily grind that comes with being a minor-league ballplayer. Volpe gave up a chance to play at Vanderbilt — a perennial college baseball power — to join the organization he rooted for as a kid.
“If I’m being honest, there’s a long way to go to get to New York and I think that’s the way it should be,” Volpe said. “You should feel that you have to put in the most work you possibly can to one day get there.”
The shortstop out of Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, was drafted by the Yankees in the first round and has been playing for the organization’s advanced rookie team in Pulaski, Virginia, of the Appalachian League. Being on his own has been an adjustment, but it’s all going toward his goal of one day being a major-leaguer, so no complaints from Volpe.
“It’s just different from anything I’ve ever done, being away from home, but baseball is baseball,” Volpe said. “Whenever I go to the field, it’s so easy to be engaged with your teammates and get as many reps as you possibly can.”
He is off to a slow start, with a 216/.355/.351 slash line including two home, 11 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 32 games through Friday. But manager Luis Dorante has praised the recent high school graduate’s ability to not let his slow start offensively affect his defense.
“For the most part, this kid has a good mentality to go out there and catch every ground ball hit to him and make the play and finish it,” Dorante said. “And that’s one thing that he impressed me with the most.”
Volpe admitted it has been an adjustment going from playing in varsity games to sharing the field with professionals. Being the youngest player on the Pulaski Yankees roster, he’s taken advantage of advice from more experienced players.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment, just the way of life and being a professional and getting used to all the expectations and the daily routine of it all,” he said. “But about a month in, I started getting the hang of it. I started looking up to and watching what other guys who have been doing it for a year or two and taking bits and pieces of that and implementing it into my routine.”
Volpe also has worked on altering his mental approach. He understands his game needs improvement, and a first-round selection doesn’t guarantee him a future ticket to the Bronx.
“You can’t take one pitch off in the field, can’t take one pitch off in the batter’s box, and just trying to get used to that and how mentally focused you have to be is an adjustment,” he said. “Just because these guys we are playing are really good players and they are here for a reason, too.”
Ever since draft day, Volpe has imagined himself playing for the team he grew up watching. He isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It was surreal and a dream come true, but at the end of the day, it’s just an opportunity,” he said. “I’m looking forward to trying to make the most of it and trying to put in the most work possible to try to hopefully fulfill that dream. My dream is to play for the New York Yankees and I have a long way to go. More years, a lot more ground balls, a lot more at-bats, so I’m excited.”
SS/2B, Pulaski Yankees
Vitals: 5-11, 180 Age: 18
Hometown: Watchung, New Jersey
Drafted: 2019 by Yankees, first round, 30th overall
.213, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 6 SB in 31 games through Aug. 8