FOX Sports’ 26-and-under power rankings are a new twist on classic prospect ratings. Yes, prospects are important, but with all the game-changing young talent already available, farming systems alone cannot tell the whole story. So let’s take a deep dive into each one MLB club, ranking them all by players in an organization who start their season 26 or younger, from the bigs to the farm. Every weekday until March 24th, we’ll be counting down from last to first.
number 20 New York Yankees
Total score for 26 and under: 14 (out of 30)
TAMPA, Fla. – Anthony Volpe’s outward demeanor includes an easy smile, a breezy walk and an overall looseness that’s somewhat surprising for a 21-year-old who’s ranked as the Yankees’ top prospect.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Volpe’s approach isn’t as carefree as his temperament makes it seem. The kid is very focused on challenging himself and getting rid of his bad habits, all in an effort to be as game-ready as possible before his impending major league debut.
“Especially in the game of baseball, it’s a cliché, but it’s a game of failure,” Volpe recently told FOX Sports. “You’re always trying to see if you can be more efficient and have a smaller margin for error. In training it’s easy to go easy and do the same things you always do. But I want to challenge myself and see if I can- as much a game as could be.”
It’s hard not to notice Volpe’s growing celebrity in the Yankees’ outfield. When he finishes an on-field drill, several coaches immediately offer feedback or complement his technique or ask about what he has left on the agenda for the day. You will get pats on the back and extra looks from the top. Only one player has received a louder ovation from the fans than Volpe during batting practice: Aaron Judge.
The New Jersey native grew up about 18 miles west of New York City, and four years after signing with the Yankees in the 2019 draft, Volpe has climbed to No. 5 on the Top 100 Prospects list from MLB Pipeline. Volpe jumped four levels in pro ball between the 2021 and ’22 minor league seasons and is expected to make his big league debut sometime this year. Volpe, along with other big-league-ready position players in Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, Everson Pereira and Estevan Florial, headline a group of young Yankees hitters with potentially high ceilings.
Last week at Yankees spring training, manager Aaron Boone specifically mentioned Volpe, Peraza, outfielder Jasson Dominguez and catcher Austin Wells as prospects he expected to see in camp.
“I’m excited for guys to knock on the door now,” Boone said. “These guys are now coming up to that higher level in the minor leagues or fighting for playing time even in the big leagues now and it’s exciting to see the next wave coming.
“There are a lot of guys who have knocked on that door and haven’t broken through yet, and there’s that hunger and that desire, but it’s also important to take it one step at a time.”
On Boone’s to-do list this spring is managing expectations. Just because Volpe doesn’t make the Opening Day roster doesn’t mean he won’t become a big piece for the Yankees at some point next season. For his part, Volpe said he does a good job of keeping his emotions in check and understands that his chance to play in the big leagues will come when the time is right.
Refraining from getting too eager to make it to the majors is even trickier for prospects who are still at least a year or two away from debuting.
Spencer Jones, the Yankees’ 2022 first-round pick, is one such young prospect who is already drawing comparisons to Judge, mostly because of his size. Jones, a left-handed center fielder with high marks for strength and power, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds. He is intriguing with his bat speed and hard contact and is quickly gaining attention for his athleticism. Jones is still at least a couple of years away from The Show, but his exit velocity readings will be interesting to watch until then.
“It’s a long, long year where things develop, things develop and performance continues to matter,” Boone said. “Opening Day might not be the same as April 15. It’s trying to remind the team as a whole, but also certain people, that we’re always playing a long game here.
“It’s about having a great season. So trying to find the balance between the urgency of every day and working on your craft and working to gradually improve. But also trying to understand that we have to be smart because we’re playing a game long here, especially when it comes to spring training.”
Major League Position Players: 6 (of 10)
Major League Pitchers: 2 (of 10)
Potential position players: 4 (of 5)
Potential pitchers: 2 (of 5)
Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a reporter for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @Deesha Thosar.
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