Many baseball fans in the New York and New Jersey area dream of growing up and playing for the Yankees. A very select few have the chance, but that was the decision that faced Anthony Volpe, the 18-year-old short stop from Delbarton High School in Morristown, who was selected in the first round by the Yankees. Remarkably, it was also a decision that his friend and teammate Jack Leiter also faced.
The standout infielder had already committed to play college ball at Vanderbilt University, something that the Yankees were hoping he would reconsider by selecting the local talent in the prestigious first round. Then there was the signing bonus – over $2.7 million. It was a lot to contemplate for the recent high school graduate.
Before the high school season ended, professional baseball scouts were crowding behind the backstop during Delbarton games, especially during the Morris County Tournament final. Volpe joked that they were there to see Jack Leiter pitch. If the name sounds familiar, perhaps you remember his dad, Al. He was on the Blue Jays team that won back to back World Series in the early 90s, before heading to the Marlins, where he got his third ring.
Leiter and Volpe went through the media circus together last year. They both earned gold medals with the United States under-18 national team at the Pan-American Championships in December. Additionally, both had committed to Vanderbilt University.
This year’s baseball draft was very deep at shortstop. Volpe was the ninth to be picked at the pivotal position. It was the Yankees’ first New Jersey high school player taken with their first selection since 2003. For those who follow statistics, Anthony’s batting average was .500 this year, with four doubles, six triples and 11 home runs. His four year varsity batting average is .486, but he is a standout in the field, with sure hands, a strong arm and extraordinary footwork. He was selected as the 2019 NJ.com Player of the Year.
Jack is a right handed pitcher whose fastball tops out at 94 mph. He was 8-1 this year, with a 0.54 earned-run average for Delbarton (which finished the season 25-3). He has struck out 88 and walked 19 in 52.1 innings. He was selected by the Yankees in the 20th round of the MLB draft despite his “99 percent chance’’ of going to Vanderbilt University.
Before graduating, Volpe put an exclamation mark on his storied high school career by capturing his second Non-Public A championship. His two-run homer and multiple crucial plays at shortstop helped the Delbarton Green Wave get revenge against St. Augustine with a 4-3, eight-inning victory. This was one year after falling to Atlantic County Prep School in the State final.
“That State championship was really something special to finish off my high school career,” Volpe said. “We put in so much hard work to accomplish that goal. To see it come to fruition is something that I’ll take with me for the rest of my career and the rest of my life.”
It must have seemed like a dream for Anthony Volpe. After a few sleepless nights, he decided to accept the Yankees offer that carried with it a signing for $2.74 million bonus. While Jack Leiter heads off to Vanderbilt in the fall, Anthony put on pinstripes. It was then that it started to sink in – he was a New York Yankee. He has now reported to the team in Tampa, Florida, to begin his professional baseball career. “It was the hardest decision of my life, to pass up the college experience and being part of a team that could win a national championship,” Volpe said. “But the opportunity to play for the New York Yankees, who I’ve dreamed about playing for my entire life and to put everything, all my concentration, apply as much pressure as I possibly could to pursue my goal, that’s what set it over the edge for me.”