How does Volpe affect Yanks' SS search?

October 28th, 2021

What a great time of year. I'm enjoying the MLB postseason, of course, but I'm referring to the Arizona Fall League. My two favorite baseball destinations are the College World Series and the AFL, and it's great watching top prospects in action again after the developmental circuit took 2020 off amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How do you see Anthony Volpe affecting the Yankees SS search? Would any SS signing a long-term deal (like, say, Seager), be signing with the knowledge they’d eventually be moving to 3B? -- @asgriff1418

Many teams, if they had one of the best prospects in baseball at shortstop, might avoid signing a free agent at that position to an expensive long-term deal. The Yankees are different than most clubs, however, with huge resources and also huge frustrations after winning just two playoff series in the last nine seasons.

As talented as Yankees top prospect Volpe is, he's also 20 and has yet to play above High-A, so he's unlikely to be ready before early 2023. New York wants to win now and has a huge hole at shortstop because the slumping Gleyber Torres isn't capable there defensively. I'll be stunned if they don't dip into a deep pool of free-agent shortstops that includes Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story.

Volpe is more of a steady than a spectacular defender with an average arm and a high baseball IQ. If, say, Correa or Story comes to New York, Volpe could slide to second base. If the Yankees land Seager and he loses a half-step in the next year or so, then Volpe could handle shortstop and the veteran could move elsewhere for the remainder of his nine-figure contract.

I don't think a possible position change two years from now will dissuade a free agent from taking New York's money. Also keep in mind that Volpe might not be destined for shortstop in any case because fellow Top 100 Prospect Oswald Peraza is a superior defender.

Mark Vientos had seemingly gained traction on supplanting Brett Baty as the Mets' 3B of the future early in the season with the Mets moving Baty around, but Baty has been on a torrid pace for all of the 2nd half of the year -- with the dire need at 3B, could Baty lock it down in '22? -- @CaoChadTTV

And what about Mauricio? These are potentially (3) 3Bs of the future -- @TIC_jeff

Two questions about three potential Mets third basemen of the future. Vientos, No. 6 on the Mets' Top 30, probably will get the first chance to play the hot corner in New York because he slammed 25 homers while reaching Triple-A this season, but he's also the least likely to keep that job in the long run. He's a below-average defender, while Baty is average at third base and Ronny Mauricio would be solid if he moved there from shortstop.

Baty is also a better all-around hitter than Vientos and Mauricio may have a higher offensive ceiling than Vientos as well. If they all hit enough to be big league regulars, the best-case defensive scenario is that Vientos plays left field, Baty sticks at third base and Mauricio remains at shortstop. It might be more realistic to project Vientos at first base or DH, Baty in left field and Mauricio at the hot corner.

Could the Rockies' Ezequiel Tovar enter the Top 10 SS list this year with a strong Fall League and start to High-A? -- @treat_12

All of our current Top 10 Shortstops rank among the best 44 prospects on our overall Top 100, so it will be a tall task for Tovar to crack that positional list in 2022. But if he builds on the offensive progress he made this year, I could see him joining the Top 100 at some point next season. I just watched him hit a three-run homer, steal a base and make a nifty play deep in the hole during an Arizona Fall League game Wednesday evening.

Signed for $800,000 out of Venezuela on his 16th birthday in 2017, Tovar is a quality shortstop with hitting ability, at least 15-homer power and solid speed and a strong arm. He made his full-season debut this year at age 19 and batted .287/.322/.475 with 15 homers and 24 steals in 104 games between Low-A and High-A.

Joey Wiemer looked great all season and seems to continue this trend in the Arizona Fall League! What is your assessment of him as a Prospect in the Brewers farm system, which has several good OF prospects? -- @SilvioMGN

I also watched Wiemer last night, and he collected three hits to pad his AFL lead in batting (.467) and on-base percentage (.568). This comes after a monster pro debut in which he hit .295/.403/.556 with 27 homers and 30 steals in 109 games between Low-A and High-A.

A fourth-round pick in 2020, Wiemer was one of the better college athlete sleepers in that class. The best prospect to come out of Cincinnati since Ian Happ, he's a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder with well above-average raw power, plus speed and an arm clocked up to 98 mph during sporadic pitching appearances with the Bearcats. He has a chance to play center field and definitely fits the profile in right field.

The strength of the Brewers system definitely is outfielders, led by their last two first-rounders in Garrett Mitchell and Sal Frelick and international signee Hedbert Perez. Wiemer fits right behind them and I anticipate he'll move up significantly when we update our Brewers Top 30 early next year.