Should Volpe break camp with the Yankees?

March 8th, 2023

It's the question on the minds of Yankees fans everywhere: Could MLB's No. 5 overall prospect make New York's Opening Day roster?

This might not have even been on the radar when camp opened on Feb. 20, but a scorching run in the Grapefruit League by the Yankees' top prospect has a lot of people asking that question right now. Over his first six games, the 21-year-old shortstop is sporting a .353/.450/.647 slash line with a home run, a pair of doubles, five runs scored, three walks and a trio of stolen bases.

Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis were asked this very question on this week's episode of the MLB Pipeline Podcast. Here is what they think:

Mayo: I'm not vehement about this, and you don’t want to just base it on the fact that he’s looked good in camp, but I am a believer that you bring the best 26 players with you. I don't know where exactly he would fit right now, so I'm kind of on the fence.

Callis: Look, I don’t think 20 plate appearances at camp necessarily mean a whole lot. It probably makes more sense to have in the lineup as your starting shortstop. He’s a better defender, he played well down the stretch last year in the big leagues. ... You know, it was a weird year last year, he got off to a slow start. He only hit .249 overall. But, he became the first player since Andruw Jones to have 20 homers and 50 steals in a Minor League season since 1995. And he drew a bunch of walks, so he contributed in a bunch of ways.

I think, as the roster is right now, unless they can somehow purge Josh Donaldson, or Gleyber Torres moves, and there’s still DJ LeMahieu -- they have a bunch of infielders and not a lot of spots. I’d rather have Volpe playing every day in Triple-A to start the season than maybe not getting something like six starts a week at the big league level.

I also think in the long run, when he comes up -- assuming Peraza is as good as we think he is, and the Yankees think he is -- Peraza is clearly a better defender at shortstop, and Volpe is probably going to be the second baseman at the big league level. Again, he’s blocked by Torres and I don’t know where LeMahieu is going to fit in. But, I’d rather have Volpe start the year in Triple-A and maybe play second base. Shortstop four times a week and second base maybe two, three times a week to get acclimated there because that’s probably where he’s going to wind up playing for the Yankees -- if not when he first comes up, in the long run.