Anthony Volpe working hard to reach potential

Anthony Volpe enjoyed a stellar return to the diamond this past season, boosting him to the top spot on the Yankees' Top 30 Prospect list. While the organization has high hopes for his future, the standout shortstop is carrying a measured approach into the 2022 campaign.

"I don't really pay too much attention to the stuff outside of my control," Volpe said on YES Network. "It's definitely an honor and one I don't take lightly, but at the same time, I just want to be the best player I can possibly be. Whether that's an unranked bottom-of-the-order prospect or where I am now, the Yankees' No. 1 prospect, I think I still have a long way to go to reach my potential."

General manager Brian Cashman has pointed to shortstop as an unsettled area of need this offseason. While the club engaged the free-agent and trade markets, the 20-year-old Volpe's rising status is part of the equation when considering future moves. MLB Pipeline rated Volpe as the No. 15 prospect in all of baseball.

"He had a very impressive year," Cashman said recently. "He certainly caught the attention of the entire industry. It really reinforces and justifies everything we heard from our amateur department when we drafted him, and so we're excited about his future."

A first-round selection (30th overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft, Volpe was limited to 34 games that summer following a bout with mononucleosis, then was unable to play in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic nixed the Minor League season.

This past year, Volpe starred for Class A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley, posting a combined .294/.423/.604 slash line with 35 doubles, six triples, 27 homers and 86 RBIs in 109 games. Volpe said that he used the 2020 pause as an opportunity to fine-tune his swing and defense.

"Having that year of COVID, it kind of put a lot of things in perspective," Volpe said. "Just being able to go out every day and really do what I love, and do what I signed to do, which is just play. Just being on the field with all my teammates and getting back together with all the guys was just a blast.

"You remember all the great moments on the field, but just as much, going out after games, before games, road trips -- stuff like that. That was the stuff I guess I wasn't really thinking that I'd miss, but when you're in it, you realize how awesome it is."

With Volpe and No. 3 prospect Oswald Peraza projected for 2023 arrivals to the big leagues, the Yankees are entertaining the suggestion that a stopgap option could fill the position this coming season.

"You have some guys that are on the come that you have to think highly of," Cashman said. "That means you either make plans for them to hopefully arrive here and impact you, or ultimately I guess sometimes they can be trade pieces. But you always like to hold on to the best of the best if you can. When you have the ability to play shortstop, it's usually the most athletic person on the field."

Volpe said his friends occasionally send him news clippings from the Hot Stove, but he's primarily focused on being healthy and ready for Spring Training. Volpe said that in 2022, he'd like to improve his ability to hit breaking balls and his arm strength from the shortstop position.

"I'm working really hard to get ready and be in the best shape, best mental, everything for Spring Training," Volpe said. "I think I'd be doing my trainers and my teammates that I'm working out with a disservice if I was reading into stuff like that."

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