Yankees Prospect Anthony Volpe Talks Hitting

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Volpe has a chance to be a star, and his bat is one of the reasons why. No. 11 on our Top 100, and No. 1 on our New York Yankees list, the 21-year-old infield prospect is on the doorstep of the big leagues thanks in part to a re-engineered swing that our own Eric Longenhagen has described as being like a right-handed version of Juan Soto’s. Playing at Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, Volpe slugged 21 home runs while logging a 117 wRC+.

Volpe discussed his evolution as a hitter at Yankees camp earlier this week.


David Laurila: How do you approach hitting? Are you a hitting nerd or more of a keep-it-simple guy?

Anthony Volpe: “Probably a little bit of both. During the season I definitely try to keep it simple. We have a great hitting department here with the Yankees that helps us set our routines so that during games we can just go out there and play. There is obviously a lot that goes into it, but at the end of the day it’s about staying simple and performing in the game.”

Laurila: How did you learn to hit?

Volpe: “For pretty much most of my life I just picked up a bat. Me and my dad would be in the back yard hitting. But then, having a half year in the Yankees system, COVID shut everything down and I tried to analyze my swing and go to the next level. The Yankees were doing all they could remotely, sending me input, and I also got hooked up with my hitting coach back in the Northeast. His name is Jason Lefkowitz. We went to work that whole time, when there was nothing during COVID.”

Laurila: Was working with him self-driven or arranged by the team?

Volpe: “I’d say it was mostly self-driven, although the communication on all aspects was pretty great. It was a matter of circumstance. I kind of saw the writing on the wall that we weren’t going to do anything, so I wanted to break things down and build it back up.”

Laurila: What did you end up changing?

Volpe: “In the simplest terms, I think a lot of sequencing — the order in which things were firing in my swing — wasn’t consistent and also wasn’t optimal. I really had to learn to get in better sequence from the ground up. I had to use the ground, use my big muscles, and not get pushy and handsy.

“It was a long process. I kind of worked the opposite. I worked from… I used my hands. As an infielder, I’ve always been told that I have good hands. And I wanted to make contact. I felt like I worked hard enough in the weight room and was strong enough to use less effort in hitting the ball harder. So there was a lot of… I mean, I wore the K-Vest every single day for at least five or six months, just to make sure my sequence was right, that my hips were going, then my torso, then my arms and my hands.

“When I first started wearing it, I was all over the place. I was trying to be consistent, be basic, and sometimes what I was thinking in my head was completely opposite of what I was doing on the video. It was an every day process.”

Laurila: Were there actual mechanical changes?

Volpe: “The focus wasn’t necessarily on the aesthetics of it, per se — the aesthetics of the stance and the load — but rather what worked for me. Everyone is different, but at the same time, everyone, when they get into the hitting zone, is doing pretty much the same thing. So the focus was just on getting into a good position to hit, which was the load, and then swinging from that good position and not leaking any power, any force.”

Laurila: Did your bat path essentially stay the same?

Volpe: “No. Doing all those things helped my bat path a lot. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to get margin for error. That’s the name of the game — having a good bat path to be able to hit when you’re not perfectly on time. Before, when I was just using my hands, I had to be on perfect timing.”

Laurila: You’re less of a handsy hitter now, but you still have to trust your hands…

Volpe: “That’s the beauty, and the complication, of hitting. The hands hold the bat, and I’m super focused on where they are and how they feel, but at the same time, I don’t think that really drives my swing. I think my back elbow and my legs kind of drive the swing.”

Laurila: I’ve read that you now get more loft.

Volpe: “Yes, but I don’t necessarily focus on the loft — I just want to make sure that I’m barreling up balls. When I feel like I’m on the barrel and focusing on pitch location… that takes care of the rest. The process behind the swings leads to better results.”

Laurila: I’ve also read that you don’t have a toe tap so much as you’re on your back heel. Is that accurate?

Volpe: “Maybe a little, and maybe not. I definitely try to stay through my heel because to me that’s through my hamstring, through the back side of my body; I’m not popping up and jumping at the pitch. I’m maybe in the middle of my feet, but as I’m going through, I’m peeling off. And I do have a little bit of a leg lift, but nothing too much.”

Laurila: Any final thoughts on hitting?

Volpe: “Just that being in the system and having all the opportunities I’ve had, I’m super grateful. Being in an organization like the Yankees and having great hitting coaches like Jason has helped me a ton. I’m definitely a product of all of that help.”


Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Jo Adell, Jeff Albert, Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Alex Bregman, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, JJ Bleday, Bobby Bradley, Jay Bruce, Matt Chapman, Michael Chavis, Gavin Cross, Jacob Cruz, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Josh Donaldson, Brendan Donovan, Donnie Ecker, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Justin Foscue, Michael Fransoso, Ryan Fuller, Joey Gallo, Devlin Granberg, Andy Haines, Mitch Haniger, Robert Hassell III, Rhys Hoskins, Eric Hosmer, Tim Hyers, Josh Jung, Jimmy Kerr, Heston Kjerstad, Steven Kwan, Trevor Larnach, Doug Latta, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Gavin Lux, Dave Magadan, Trey Mancini, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Hunter Mense, Owen Miller, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Daniel Murphy, Vinnie Pasquantino, Brent Rooker, Drew Saylor, Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis Jr., Justin Turner, Mark Trumbo, Josh VanMeter, Robert Van Scoyoc, Chris Valaika, Zac Veen, Mark Vientos, Matt Vierling, Luke Voit, Jared Walsh, Jordan Westburg, Jesse Winker, Nick Yorke, Kevin Youkilis

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

Jason Lefkowitz*