When Anthony Volpe came up to bat with two on in a tie game in the top of the ninth, he was just looking to be aggressive.
Having faced lefty Jimmy Burnette a couple nights ago, he knew he had a good fastball and figured he’d see one from him. Volpe worked a 3-1 count, and on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, he swatted a pitch on the outside corner over the fence in right-center for a three-run blast.
“I got into a pretty good count early, and I saw all his pitches,” Volpe said. “It felt great. The team’s worked really hard and we really care about winning and want to win. It felt good to do that in the ninth. Felt like I came through for the team.”
Working the count proved to be the key to success for Volpe’s night. In the third frame, the 21-year-old ended a seven-pitch at-bat by smacking his 16th double of the season to left-center. He scored on a homer from Yankees No. 25 prospect Josh Breaux, giving Somerset an early 2-0 lead.
“I just wanted to get a good pitch to hit and be aggressive,” Volpe said of his approach.
The Fisher Cats took a 3-2 lead in the seventh, but the Patriots answered right back with a run in the next frame to get things even at 3.
A walk and a hit-by-pitch put two on with one out when Volpe stepped into the box. The shortstop last faced Burnette on Wednesday, when he drew a six-pitch walk. By the time the count was 3-1, he had already seen 10 pitches from the reliever over the past two games, giving him a pretty good idea of what he might see next.
The long ball was his first since June 4 and his second homer of the year that drove in multiple runs. For the Yankees' top prospect, the best part about it was simply being able to help get his team a win.
“We have a really tight-knit group and great chemistry in the clubhouse,” Volpe said. “We want to win this first half and clinch here soon, so we’re really playing every game really hard.”
After a slow start to the year, the 30th overall pick of the 2019 Draft is heating up in his first taste of Double-A. Over his last 30 games, Volpe is batting .273/.341/.455, and he’s hitting at a .325 clip with 21 total bases in 40 at-bats across his last 10 games.
For Volpe, playing with many of the same teammates he had last season in High-A has been invaluable.
“Most of the core guys on the team, we played together pretty much all of last year into this year,” Volpe said. “Everyone knows what to expect from each other and what buttons to push and when. It really helps everyone stay consistent and stay mentally there every day.”