Anthony Volpe enjoying the 2022 All-Star Futures Game experience


Anthony Volpe enjoying the 2022 All-Star Futures Game experience

LOS ANGELES — Anthony Volpe attended his first Futures game at Target Field eight years ago, part of an all-star trip with his father to watch Derek Jeter play his final Midsummer Classic.

Volpe had no idea that he might be following in his favorite player’s footsteps.

Volpe, who grew up in suburban New Jersey about 30 miles from Yankee Stadium, was back at Dodger Stadium for Saturday’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, this time shortstoping and cleaning up for the American League.

“You don’t get the chance to play the best of the best too often,” said Volpe, who ended the competition 2-0. “I’m very excited.”

Volpe has weathered a slow start to 2022 at Double-A Somerset and finally demonstrated the skills that have ranked him the No. 1 Yankees and No. 8 overall in the game, according to the MLB Pipeline.

After hitting .203 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 40 games through the end of May, Volpe hit .306 with 7 homers and 20 RBIs in 37 games throughout June and July, earning his place in Saturday’s All-Star Showcase.

The underperforming start to the season did not deter the 21-year-old, who was confident in his talent and performance during difficult times and confident that he would emerge from his crisis a wiser and stronger player.

“It actually gives me a lot of confidence to know that I haven’t really changed anything or that it wasn’t something that I had unlocked,” Volpe said. “I’ve struggled, of course, but I haven’t really changed anything and I see very different results. The process is always the same and of course it’s nice to see some hits come in.”

As Volpe spoke to half a dozen reporters ahead of Saturday’s game, a familiar face stood about 20 feet above the clubhouse: Jack Leiter.

The Rangers’ pick (No. 16 overall in MLB) was a high school teammate of Volpe’s in Delbarton, NJ. So if anyone in the AL dressing room had a good scouting report on the Baby Bomber, it was Leiter.

“He’s always been a badass thug,” said Leiter. “He’s probably the best hitter I’ve ever met.”

Leiter praised Volpe for his skills on the field, but it was his mental state and work ethic that kept coming up during the conversation. Leiter’s father Al was a two-time All-Star during a solid 19-year career, so the 22-year-old has an idea of ​​what it takes to succeed in the majors. The hype that can come with being the Yankees’ top prospect — let alone being a Jersey-born shortstop like Jeter — can become overwhelming for many kids of Volpe’s age.

In this case, said Leiter, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“Ever since he was 10, there’s been talk all over New Jersey that Anthony Volpe is the next big thing,” said Leiter. “The most important thing about dealing with expectations is really not worrying about them; Work hard and don’t focus on the big picture. Don’t focus on what other people say or think about you. It’s all about staying true to that routine.

“From a young age there were expectations placed on him and he’s always managed well, so there’s no reason to think it won’t go further. If there’s anyone who can handle the biggest market, the biggest fan base and all those expectations, it’s him.”

Like every top Yankees prospect before him, Volpe is sure to hear his name in a trade rumor or two by the close of trading on August 2nd. That’s a prime example of what Leiter was talking about and based on Volpe’s response to such a question on Saturday, he seems to know how to handle it.

“It’s super out of my control; I’m in the game here in LA with some of the best minor leagues, so I don’t think about things like that,” Volpe said. “It’s such a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if I thought about it, I would pull away from it.”

Hal Steinbrenner cited Volpe’s rise through the organization as one of the reasons the Yankees chose not to pursue one of the notable free-agent shortstops last offseason, which only pushed those expectations higher. Volpe said it’s “obviously great” to hear Steinbrenner express that kind of confidence in him, but he’s not setting a personal timeline for getting to the Bronx.

“I feel like I still have a long way to go,” said Volpe. “[The Futures Game] is of course a big step in my career, but there is still a lot to do. Even if I hopefully get there one day, there’s still work to be done to be the player I want to be and hopefully win a lot of World Series.”

Sounds a lot like a former Yankees shortstop, doesn’t it?

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