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The path to pinstripes for Anthony Volpe in 2022

Can the Yankees’ top prospect still make an impact in the big leagues this season? Although he should, it feels unlikely, thouhnot impossible.

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2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Knock, knock, knock.

Do you hear that?

Knock, knock, knock.

It’s a noise we’ve heard twice in the past month, once for Oswaldo Cabrera, once for Oswald Peraza.

Knock, knock, knock.

That’s the sound of Anthony Volpe, the Yankees’ top prospect and the fifth-ranked prospect in baseball, knocking on the door of the major leagues. Promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Oswald Peraza received the call to The Show, Volpe struck out in two of his first three plate appearances at the Triple-A level. Since then, however, he’s gone 11-for-22 with two home runs, two doubles, and two stolen bases, working three walks and striking out just twice. It’s a small sample size, but even so, he’s absolutely pummeled opposing pitchers to the point where it’s easy to wonder whether he even needs time in Scranton.

It’s a fair question. It’s not unheard of, after all, for top prospects to skip the uppermost level of the minor leagues and instead jump straight from Double-A to the Majors. Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez played just 46 games in Double-A before opening the season as Seattle’s starting center fielder. The Atlanta Braves promoted Michael Harris straight from Double-A Mississippi back in May. Each has a strong case for the Rookie of the Year Award in his respective league.

Looking further back, we can find some players that made the jump to join a team in the middle of a pennant race. Back in 2016, Andrew Benintendi was called up by the Red Sox on August 2nd after just 63 games with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, as they sought outfield help for a team sending Brock Holt into left field on a daily basis. The Chicago Cubs called up Kyle Schwarber twice in 2015, once for a weeklong cameo in June and then for good in July. His first call-up came straight from Double-A, and between his two stints with Chicago, he spent just 17 days with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Volpe would be in good company, and Keith Law of The Athletic was already banging the “Volpe to the majors” drum when he was still in Somerset.

Of course, the question with Volpe isn’t whether or not prospects of his pedigree have been able to successfully make the jump with no experience at Triple-A (or, as it would be in Volpe’s case, practically none). The question, rather, is what that potential path is. With less than a month left in the International League season and a shave under a month left in the Yankee season, there really isn’t enough time for Volpe to hit well enough for a long enough stretch to truly force the issue, especially considering how cautious the Yankees have been promoting their prospects of late.

Time left in the season may not be on Volpe’s side. However, the Yankees are currently plagued by the one thing that accelerates prospect timelines with frequency: injuries. At the moment, DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo, Matt Carpenter, Andrew Benintendi, and Harrison Bader are on the injured list, while Giancarlo Stanton has battled a foot injury and has barely played the last few days. Currently, the only position player on the 40-man not already on the active roster is Everson Pereira (thanks to Ben Rortvedt’s recent promotion with Jose Trevino on the paternity list). If anyone else goes down, they’ll have to make room for another player. And if you’re going to add somebody to the 40-man, why not add Volpe?

It’s unlikely, of course, especially since the Yankees are actually at a spot where they need to free up 40-man spots for players who might be activated from the 60-day IL in upcoming days: Bader, Luis Severino, Zack Britton, and Miguel Castro. Still...

Knock, knock, knock.

If Volpe keeps knocking, nothing’s impossible.