LOS ANGELES — As a diehard Yankees fan who idolized Derek Jeter while growing up in New York and New Jersey, Anthony Volpe traveled to Minneapolis in 2014 for the Hall of Fame shortstop’s last All-Star Game.
Included in that trip was watching the Futures Game, two days before the major leaguers took the stage at Target Field.
Eight years later, Volpe was at the Futures Game again — this time batting cleanup and playing shortstop for the AL team at Dodger Stadium.
“It’s not too often you get to play against the best of the best, so I’m really excited,” Volpe said before going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. “So far it’s been crazy. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
For the 21-year-old Volpe, the No. 8 prospect in baseball per MLB.com, the experience was all the more special because he was able to represent (along with outfielder Jasson Dominguez and pitcher Ken Waldichuk) the team he grew up rooting for.
“It’s a huge honor to be representing the Yankees — in everything we do — but just to be here with JD and Ken, it’s a super great honor,” Volpe said.
The other side of being a top prospect, of course, is being included in trade Rumors for top players, especially as part of a World Series-contending organization such as the Yankees. While the news that Nationals superstar Juan Soto could be dealt before the Aug. 2 trade deadline brought Volpe’s name into any potential Yankees deal, he was not thinking about that possibility.
“It’s super out of my control,” Volpe said. “I’m here in LA with some of the best minor leaguers in the game. … It’s just a great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that if I was spending any brainpower thinking about like that, it would be taking away from how much fun I’m having.”
Volpe started the season off slow at Double-A Somerset, hitting .165 with four home runs and a .607 OPS through his first 29 games. But over his last 48 games, he is hitting .303 with eight home runs and a .933 OPS. Overall this year, he is batting .253 with a .812 OPS while going 35-for-39 in stolen bases.
That comes after an offseason in which the Yankees did not sign any of the top shortstops on the free-agent market — in part because of Volpe and Triple-A shortstop Oswald Peraza, the Yankees’ No. 2 prospects behind Volpe. Both were mentioned by Hal Steinbrenner in spring training when explaining the club’s non-pursuit of stars like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story.
“That’s obviously great to hear from someone like that,” Volpe said. “But at the end of the day, I feel like I have a long way to go. This is obviously a great step in my career, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Even when I hopefully get there one day, there’s still a lot more work to be done to be the player I want to be and hopefully win a lot of World Series.”