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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 6/13/23

How pitchers have adjusted to Volpe; Peraza tearing it up in minors; Subway Series preview; Potential outfield target heating up; Voit signs minor league deal with Mets

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Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball Prospectus | Daniel R. Epstein (subscription required): Anthony Volpe’s season started off on a promising enough note; however, the rookie shortstop is going through some growing pains of late. He leads the team by a substantial margin with 77 strikeouts and is last among qualified hitters with a 68 DRC+ (BP’s version of wRC+). With the amount of data available to big league teams, pitchers can identify and exploit weaknesses in a young hitter’s game much faster:

“His exit velocity and power numbers show that he can make loud contact when he gets his just-right pitch, but he has two massive holes in different areas of the strike zone. This makes an easy attack plan for pitchers and catchers who can bust him middle-in or up and out. He hasn’t been able to make them pay in those areas even once this season — unless you count a bunt and a moderately hard ground ball.”

Baseball is a game of constant adjustment and readjustment, and Volpe will need to show he can handle pitches in all quadrants of the zone.

The Athletic | Brendan Kuty (subscription required): What makes Volpe’s situation feel even more pressing is the performance of the player he beat out in in spring training shortstop competition. Oswald Peraza had been lighting Triple-A on fire since his demotion on May 14th, batting .321/.396/.728 with 10 home runs, 17 RBI and a 171 wRC+ in 19 games (though he did have to sit out this past weekend anyway with an illness). His hitting coach credits improved plate discipline for the sustained success:

“He’s currently finding this happy medium of ‘I can make really good swing decisions and not strike out a lot and still hit for power,’” Amicone said. “Whereas I think last year, between (Triple A) and the big leagues, there’s maybe that bouncing back and forth between ‘Who am I capable of being?’ I think now he’s in that spot where he’s beginning to realize that he could do both as long as the kid takes care of (everything) in the cage and with his body and game plans.”

Juxtaposed with Volpe’s struggles, Peraza is certainly giving the Yankees something to think about, especially with the offense struggling to score in Aaron Judge’s absence.

The New York Times | Benjamin Hoffman: The upcoming Subway Series promises a tantalizing lineup of starting pitching duels, with Luis Severino taking on Max Scherzer before Gerrit Cole battles former Astros stablemate Justin Verlander. Scherzer struggled in his first two starts before finding his footing while Severino was dominant in his first two, followed by a pair of clunkers. Meanwhile, Cole vs. Verlander is extra spicy considering Verlander pipped him to the 2019 AL Cy Young Award as his teammate. Those mouthwatering matchups stand in stark contrast to the absences of the two preeminent power hitters in the game, with Aaron Judge and Pete Alonso set to miss the series on the IL.

NJ Advance Media | Kevin Manahan: The Yankees offense was always going to struggle without Judge, but it has been alarming to witness just how little production the other outfielders are providing. With the trade deadline less than seven weeks away, eyes begin to turn to the few potential sellers around the league, with the Giants standing out for the collection of impact outfield bats. Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto could be available after signing in the winter, but it’s Joc Pederson who appears the likeliest trade block candidate. He’s hitting .282/.390/.544 with seven home runs, 24 RBI and a 153 wRC+, and having accepted the qualifying offer of just under $20 million to return to SF, he would be a pure albeit expensive rental. Of course, since the Giants currently share one of the National League Wild Card spots in a weak field, they probably shouldn’t be fully lumped into the seller’s market just yet.

Sports Illustrated | Pat Ragazzo: With Alonso out injured, the Mets signed Luke Voit to a minor league contract, assigning him for now to Triple-A Syracuse. The 32-year-old first baseman signed a $2 million major league deal with the Brewers, with whom he made 22 appearances slashing .221/.284/.265 with no home runs, four RBI and a 54 wRC+. It doesn’t sound like he’ll join the Mets immediately but keep an eye out.

Lastly, Andrew covered this yesterday, but Aaron Judge was the lone Yankee leading at his position in the first MLB All-Star Game voting update. He paces all outfielders so far, though he trails Shohei Ohtani in the overall American League vote.