Anthony Volpe hopes early start helps him win Yankees shortstop job

TAMPA — Dating back to November, the Yankees have insisted that there would be an open competition at shortstop this spring.

So Anthony Volpe got to work early, putting himself in the best possible position to have a chance to win it.

The Yankees’ top prospect showed up at the team’s player development complex for workouts in December and then stayed there for good starting in January, moving his schedule up ahead of attending his first major league camp.

“I’m just excited to play and compete and treat this like the beginning of the season instead of camp,” Volpe said Monday after the team’s first full-squad workout at Steinbrenner Field. “I kind of treated [the last two months] like my spring training and then this like the regular season.”

The 21-year-old Volpe is competing with incumbent Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera for the job. He finished last season by playing 22 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while the other three shortstop candidates ended it in the big leagues, with each getting at least one playoff start at the position.

Anthony Volpe takes some ground balls during Yankees spring training on Monday.
Charles Wenzelberg / N.Y. Post

Anthony Volpe
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But Volpe’s ceiling is considered to be the highest of the group, making him an intriguing player to watch all spring. It just remains to be seen when his play will deem him ready for the major leagues.

“I think just being my first [big-league] camp, it’s such an amazing and cool opportunity,” Volpe said. “Last camp, when I was up here for the couple games, I was trying to make a good impression and play well. Any time I get out on the field, I want to try to compete in the game and be the best player I can be. Regardless of what happens out of my control after that, I can’t really concern myself too much with it.”

The Yankees rave about Volpe’s makeup as much as his on-field tools, the combination of which have him entering the year as Baseball America’s No. 14-overall prospect. Last season, which he spent most of at Double-A Somerset, he hit a combined .249 with 21 home runs and a .802 OPS to go with 50 stolen bases across 132 games.

Now, the former first-round pick and New Jersey product is trying to soak up the experience of being in big-league camp with the team he grew up rooting for.

“It’s pretty surreal,” he said. “Willie Randolph’s with us [as a guest instructor]. Just getting to learn from guys like that that I grew up learning [about] — my parents were huge Yankee fans, too. Getting to be in a clubhouse with guys all throughout middle school, high school and everything like that, I grew up watching their games on TV. It’s pretty cool.”

Manager Aaron Boone has said on multiple occasions that the players competing for the shortstop job will also get reps at other positions this spring in order to give them more options. Volpe said he has been practicing some at second base during his workouts over the past two months.

“Wherever it is, I just want to play,” he said.

Anthony Volpe takes some cuts in the cage during Yankees spring training on Monday.
Charles Wenzelberg / NY Post

Volpe spent time on Monday taking ground balls at shortstop alongside Kiner-Falefa — with Peraza and Cabrera manning the position on the next field over — after the quartet took batting practice together on another backfield.

“So far, so good,” Volpe said. “First real day, but cool to be around everyone and be in the same locker room, same hitting group, stuff like that.”

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