Volpe homers twice in twin bill, but don't forget about his defense

July 29th, 2022

Anthony Volpe has a cool and calm demeanor about him. When he stumbled out of the gate, hitting just .203 through the first two months of the season, his poise kept him level-headed.

And when he homered in both ends of Double-A Somerset’s doubleheader sweep of Richmond on Thursday, the latest entry in a flipped script since the beginning of June, it was that same mindset that could only see one thing: the outcomes of the games.

“As a team we wanted to come out and get ahead early and really sweep these two games. They were important to us,” Volpe said. “To be able to feel like I contributed meant a lot.”

The top-ranked Yankees prospect (MLB No. 7) began his day with a leadoff homer in the third inning of the afternoon game, a solo blast off Flying Squirrels starter Ryan Jensen. Volpe drove in another run with his 25th double of the season in the sixth as the Patriots cruised to a 7-1 win.

Already in high gear, the 21-year-old kicked it up another notch in the nightcap, turning on the first pitch of the game from starter Matt Frisbee and sending it over the wall in left-center to give Somerset an early lead that it never relinquished, winning 6-3.

“I wanted to be aggressive and jump on a good pitch,” Volpe said. “Luckily it went out.”

After vaulting onto the national prospect map with a standout 2021 season, the 2019 first-round Draft pick found his first taste of the Eastern League to be quite the challenge. Entering the season’s third month, Volpe, who had an OPS of 1.027 between two levels last year, sat at a .684 clip.

Without changing much on the process side, the results then started flowing in as expected. Since June 1, Volpe is hitting .310 with a .974 OPS, though most of that production has come in July, where he sports an excellent .328/.436/.656 line.

“The beginning of the season was tough, I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t,” Volpe said. “For me, it gives me a lot more confidence knowing that I can go through that mentally and not change anything physically, just trusting my process, trusting the work I do before games. 

“It’s more confidence-building knowing that it wasn’t a magic switch that turned my season around.”

Even when his bat was slow to come around, part of Volpe’s allure is that he can impact the game in multiple ways. He leads the Yankees organization with 37 stolen bases and made another incredible defensive play on Thursday night, diving into a full extension up the middle before jumping up and making the throw to first base.

“I take a lot of pride in trying to help the team in any way I can,” Volpe said. “A lot of times the bat is magnified and what you do at the plate… people care a lot more about it. If you’re just worried about hitting, there are a lot of plays and little moments in the game that I feel make a big difference.”

The anchor of an already good Somerset team, Volpe has received even more assistance in the Patriots clubhouse as of late, on both sides of the ball. 

Former Yankees top pitching prospect Deivi García, who has dealt with multiple injuries over the last two seasons and had not seen game action since May 26, joined the team on Thursday and tossed four scoreless innings with six strikeouts in the first game of the doubleheader.

Volpe’s lineup protection looks much more formidable with New York’s No. 4 prospect Austin Wells and No. 10 prospect Everson Pereira recently joining Somerset. Wells has hit safely in 13 of 16 games since his promotion, including an active 12-game streak.

“Those guys fit in like they’ve been there the whole year,” Volpe said. “Just to get them in the lineup has been huge for the team and it’s great to see them do what I know they’re capable of. But in the clubhouse is where it stands out the most, just how they gel with the guys that have been here the whole year.”