Volpe eager to watch HS teammate Leiter's debut

April 18th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Today is an off-day on the Yankees’ schedule, and has big plans.

The shortstop plans to find a comfortable chair early in the afternoon, maybe fix himself a snack and settle in front of a TV to watch high school teammate Jack Leiter make his Major League debut for the Rangers against the Tigers in Detroit. The game can be seen on MLB Network and for free on MLB.TV at 1:10 p.m. ET.

“I couldn’t be happier for him and for his whole family. I’m super excited,” said Volpe, who has been exchanging text messages with his friend since Texas announced the pending promotion of Leiter, the club’s No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Volpe and Leiter first met on an Upper East Side playground when they were youngsters; Volpe’s family lived in the city at the time, and Leiter’s father, Al, was pitching for the Mets. They reunited as classmates at the Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J.

As high school seniors, Volpe and Leiter teamed to help Delbarton to a state championship. They also shared a dugout while representing Team USA and throughout an assortment of All-American events and the Area Code Games.

Asked for his best memories of that time, Volpe replied: “Winning and being able to play behind him, watching him pitch and dominate in high school, Team USA and everything we were able to do together.”

Volpe and Leiter both committed to Vanderbilt University, but Volpe opted to sign with the Yankees after being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.

Leiter went on to college, where he starred for two seasons before being selected by the Rangers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

“He’s a super competitor,” Volpe said. “So mentally tough, and obviously, insanely talented with all of his pitches.”

In three games (two starts) at Triple-A Round Rock, Leiter is 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 25 while permitting three walks and 11 hits in 14 1/3 innings.

Volpe said that he has already been thinking ahead about a chance to face Leiter in a big league game. The Rangers visit Yankee Stadium from Aug. 9-11, then the Yankees are in Arlington from Sept. 2-4.

“Definitely,” Volpe said. “Even before he got called up. I’m excited.”

As much as Volpe is personally looking forward to watching Leiter pitch, he recognizes how important Thursday’s game will be for the classmates, coaches and teachers who helped each of them on their respective paths to The Show.

“It’s incredible for the whole community,” Volpe said. “I know every level we were at, whether it was me when I first got drafted in the Minors or him when he went to Vandy, it’s cool to see it’s the same level of support regardless of where you’re at.

“Obviously, everyone’s supporting [us] now and really pumped up. But I think at least from my perspective, what’s stood out the most is how much they support you along the way throughout the whole journey.”