Anthony Volpe has a team-first mentality, and he isn’t letting that waver, despite being a well-regarded prospect for June’s MLB draft.
The prep shortstop at Delbarton High in New Jersey isn’t new to the attention. He’s played in numerous showcase events and was a part of Team USA’s gold medal-winning 18-and-under team in the fall.
He also is teammates with right-handed pitcher Jack Leiter, who is one of the top prep arms in this year’s draft class and the son of former major league pitcher Al Leiter.
Through all the attention and meetings with scouts, Volpe has kept his focus on winning a state championship and enjoying his final months of high school, he said.
Volpe has the skills and potential to be a top-five round draft pick and could even sneak into the back half of the first round, depending on his signability.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy to block it all out,” Volpe said. “Having Jack there too helps. He’s going through the same thing, we talk to each other on what’s going on. It’s nice to be able to confine to someone who’s going through the same thing.”
Volpe is a Vanderbilt commit and chose the university over Duke and Virginia. Vanderbilt’s strong academics and Southeastern Conference affiliation, along with his relationship with coach Tim Corbin, played into his decision.
Volpe’s parents have always stressed the importance of academics, he said. He plans on studying economics, if he honors his college commitment instead of embarking on a professional career.
Leiter also is a Vanderbilt commit.
“As soon as I went down to Vanderbilt, I pretty much canceled the rest of my visits,” Volpe said. “I knew as soon as I got on campus that that was where I wanted to go.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound shortstop has a solid approach at the plate. Volpe, a right-handed hitter, has a quick and compact swing that allows him to hit line drives to all fields. He possesses below-average power but has a proven track record against high-level pitching.
Scouts consistently rave about Volpe’s makeup, work ethic and baseball IQ.
“I just love baseball,” Volpe said. “I love watching baseball and talking baseball. Me and my dad since I could remember would watch baseball. I think it’s just fun for me to do that. It’s not a chore. It’s a game.”
Volpe makes all the routine plays at shortstop. He has the speed, hands, footwork and instincts to play shortstop. He has average arm strength, causing some scouts to envision him at second base in the future.
Volpe believes he’s better suited to play shortstop and feels he can stick at the position long term, he said.
“I’m still working on my arm, and I know how important it is to have a strong arm,” Volpe said. “I think if you cut down the distance and move your feet to the ball and have good reactions, you can do a lot of things to let your feet do the throw, not even your arm. I think that could translate to the next level, and I’m excited to try.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.