With promotion season underway in the MLB, is it possible that baseball’s next top prospect plays for New York?
A few weeks ago, MLB.com updated their top-100 prospects list and two New York prospects found themselves inside the top 10. New York Yankees shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe slotted in at 5th, while New York Mets catching prospect Francisco Álvarez was 7th.
Other prospect lists also have the two players ranked highly, with FanGraphs putting Álvarez 7th and Volpe 12th and Baseball America placing Volpe 10th and Álvarez 13th prior to the season.
However, as the MLB season inches into June, many of the names above the New York prospects on the various lists have started to get called up to the big show. Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt began the season in Seattle and Kansas City, respectively. Adley Rutschman is now in Baltimore. Riley Greene will soon join Spencer Torkelson in Detroit. Shane Baz is back with Tampa Bay, and Gabriel Moreno has been called up to Toronto.
Depending on which list you go off of, that leaves only Baltimore starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez ahead of the New York prospects. The right-hander is thought by many to be the top pitching prospect in all of baseball and was likely headed for Baltimore before a shoulder injury looks like it figures to derail his 2022 season.
So that means the rest of the 2022 campaign could be Anthony Volpe and Francisco Álvarez battling to see who can march towards that number one spot.
Despite his high ceiling, Volpe has had the worse year of the two prospects. He’s hitting just .224 in his first 51 games in Double-A with a .720 OPS, six home runs, 27 RBI, and 32 runs scored. He does, however, have an impressive 22 stolen bases to just three caught stealing.
Hide your bases, Anthony Volpe's coming 🥷🥷
The Yankees top prospect ties the Eastern League lead with his 22nd stolen base of the season! pic.twitter.com/5f1sfAjNVp
— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) June 12, 2022
The shortstop has been solid in the field despite six errors, showing strong instincts and good overall fundamentals. While there is some concern that Volpe lacks the athleticism to stick at shortstop, he could easily slide over to second base without much concern.
While Volpe has struggled a bit with the bat, Francisco Álvarez has had no such issues.
MY GOODNESS 😳
Mets No. 1 prospect Francisco Álvarez DESTROYED this ball!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 8, 2022
The stocky catcher is hitting .275 in 50 games at Double-A, with a .897 OPS, 13 home runs, 33 RBI, and 32 runs scored. Despite his average receiving skills behind the plate, he shows plus arm strength, throwing out 13 baserunners already this season.
Despite their lofty rankings, it’s unlikely that either player will see the Major Leagues this season. Catching prospects notoriously take a while to advance through the system due to the defensive rigors of the position, so even though Álvarez is showing that he has the bat to compete, the Mets will not want to rush his defensive growth.
For Volpe, he will likely need to show more with the bat as he advances through the system in order to pressure the Yankees for a call-up. His baserunning has been impressive, but 51 strikeouts in 51 games and just a .322 on-base percentage are not likely to convince the higher-ups that he can get on base enough to warrant a promotion to even Triple-A right now.
However, the beauty for the development of both players is that there is no rush. The Mets and Yankees are the only two teams in baseball with 40 wins at this point in the season, so the Major League rosters are doing their part.
As a result, these two top prospects can continue to develop without added pressure, and we can be treated to watching the New York battles carry into the Minor League circuit as well.
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