During the 2014 All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota, Anthony Volpe vividly recalls sitting at the stands with his father watching some of his favorite major league stars such as New York Yankees left fielder Joey Gallo and Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez. The youngster hoped that one day, he too would be recognized on the same platform as one of baseball’s most promising prospects.
That day has finally come.
On Thursday, it was announced that the 21-year-old shortstop was selected to the American League roster for the 2022 All-Star Futures Game, becoming the second Somerset Patriots player to be selected to the Futures Game after pitcher Luis Medina received a nod in 2021. The game will be held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 16.
“It’s a huge honor,” Volpe said. “I watched the Futures Games for [many years]so it’s definitely going to be something that I’m gonna have to pinch myself to think about but I’m super excited.”
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It is also an indication that Volpe is well on his way to a major league contract since the majority of players who play in the All-Star Futures Game are called up to the 26-man roster at some point in their careers. Of the 61 players who competed in the 2013 All-Star Futures Game, 57 of them were called up to the majors.
“We are all so proud of him, the year he’s having this year has been great,” Somerset Patriots manager Dan Fiorito said. “Just to see him go down there is gonna be a great experience for him to be around the future [best players] in the game right now.
In the intervening month, Volpe has slashed .309/.393/.553, a far cry from his .193 batting average at the end of April, making his rapid midseason turnaround even more impressive.
And while success has seemingly come naturally for the former Yankees’ 2019 first-round pick, this season has proven to be the first time we’ve seen Volpe struggle on such a big stage. Getting out of his early-season funk and earning an All-Star nod was a result of Volpe believing in his own abilities, according to Fiorito.
“I think that it’s so impressive for a 21-year-old to be that confident in himself to know that what he does every day is good enough,” Fiorito said. “He’s never gotten to a point where’s he like, I gotta keep changing this and that. He just keeps going about his business and is seeing the results now.”
As the Patriots enter the second half of the season, the Yankees’ No. 1 overall prospect plans on sticking to the same strategy that made him an All-Star in the first place.
“There really hasn’t been nothing mechanically that has changed, and the biggest thing was not to change, which would’ve made me get in my own head even more. I’m just going to stick to my approach and stay confident.
The excitement of heading down to Los Angeles for the All-Star game is even sweeter for Volpe knowing that former Delbarton teammate Jack Leiter, a top pitching prospect for the Texas Rangers, will join him on the American League team.
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“We found out a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been texting back and forth about it ever since,” Volpe said. I’m excited to go out and play shortstop behind him when he’s pitching, it’ll feel like old times.
Leiter won’t be the only familiar face that Volpe will see down in Los Angeles — fellow Yankees prospects Jasson Dominguez, an outfielder, and starting pitcher Ken Waldichuk will be competing alongside on the American League squad.
Due to their commitments as professional baseball players, both Volpe and Leiter rarely see each other throughout the year. However, even as they pursue their major-league dreams, their bond remains just as tight as it was when they were winning championships together at Delbarton High School.
“It’s special, I don’t know too many other guys who get to share that same bond,” Volpe said. “I usually see him in the offseason but during the season we don’t get to see each other so it’s usually through calls and text messages. It’s going to be cool to see everyone and get families back together and stuff.”
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Corey Annan may be reached at [email protected].