With Opening Day for the 2023 MLB season just around the corner, a few emerging reports have centered around top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe and his spot with the team. While many assumed the young shortstop would start the season in Triple-A, it now appears that there is a very realistic chance that he wins the battle to start at shortstop.
This Spring Training, shortstop was one of a few positions, along with left field, that appeared to be a real battle. Last year, Isiah Kiner-Falefa was the main shortstop, however, he was splitting time by the end of the season with Yankees prospect Oswald Peraza. After IKF was benched for Peraza in the Postseason, it appeared that Peraza would eventually earn the 2023 starting nod.
Despite Peraza’s success at the big league level in limited playing time, Anthony Volpe has taken the baseball world by storm this Spring Training, posting an absurd .939 OPS as a 21 year-old and firmly putting his name in the mix. With Peraza struggling a bit this Spring and IKF transitioning to a true utility role, Volpe very well might go from Yankees prospect to Opening Day starter.
The Popular Rumors
Today, the Yankees have a pair of Spring Training games, one of which will be the final Spring start for Opening Day starter, Gerrit Cole. In the game Cole is scheduled to pitch, Volpe finds himself scheduled to lead off immediately followed by Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo. Not a bad spot for the top Yankees prospect.
Furthermore, fellow Yankees Josh Donaldson, Aaron Hicks and Jose Trevino are also scheduled to start. With so many expected big leaguers in the lineup, Volpe’s placement at the top of the order is giving the impression to some that he has a real shot of starting Opening Day.
Meanwhile, Oswald Peraza finds himself batting second in the Yankees other game today, behind D.J. LeMahieu in a lineup also featuring IKF, Oswaldo Cabrera and Kyle Higashioka.
Of note, Brandon Kuty who covers the Yankees for the Athletic added additional fuel to the fire this morning when he stated that Volpe was getting support from “high-level voices” in the Yankees organization. This echos similar comments from both MVP Aaron Judge and manager Aaron Boone who both separately praised the young Yankees prospect earlier this Spring.
Meanwhile, the Yankees also have an opening in the outfield, following the Harrison Bader injury, but so-far Yankees prospect Estevan Florial has struggled to seize the role.
What Could Happen
In a situation where Volpe goes from Yankees prospect to Opening Day starter, the Yankees will continue to have a log-jam of infielders on their big league roster. While Volpe, Peraza and IKF are the only shortstop options, the team also has Gleyber Torres, Josh Donaldson, D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo rounding out their infield optioins.
With Rizzo locked into first base for the majority of the season, the team will have to find a solution for the other positions. One option would be sending either Volpe or Peraza back to Triple-A where they can continue to get at-bats, but doing so leaves IKF as the only backup shortstop on the roster.
Another option would be trying to trade away IKF or the expensive Josh Donaldson, but it’s fair to wonder if any team would be interested in either player. Finally, the team could look at trading Torres who was believed to be involved in trade talks at the 2022 MLB Trade Deadline. However, despite some struggles in the Post Season, Torres was actually one of the better Yankees hitters not named Aaron Judge and gives the Yankees an MLB ready at-bat should Volpe and/or Peraza struggle.
With the season right around the corner, which Yankees prospect do you want to see win the shortstop battle? Let us know in the comments below!
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