Home News The bond and off-day talk that sparked a change in Anthony Volpe

The bond and off-day talk that sparked a change in Anthony Volpe

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After spending most of the past two seasons on the same teams and then living together again in spring training this year, Anthony Volpe and Austin Wells saw each other Monday for the first time since Yankees camp broke.

They put the off day to good use — and not just by eating some home-cooked chicken parmesan.

Volpe went back home to Watchung, N.J., and spent the day with his family, Wells and a couple of other former teammates from Double-A Somerset.

“It was really awesome, just like old times,” said Wells, the Yankees’ top catching prospect.

It was a quality way to spend a day off before the Subway Series began Tuesday and perhaps a chance for Volpe to get away from baseball for a bit after a tough stretch.

Except, of course, a baseball rat such as Volpe never gets too far away from the game.

Yankees prospect Austin Wells, a catcher for Double-A Somerset, spent a day this week with former teammate and close friend Anthony Volpe.
Somerset Patriots

And then when his aunt brought up a memory from the 2021 season — Volpe and Wells were teammates at both Single-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley — they started talking through some of the best games they played together, including the time they hit back-to-back homers on July 4 with Tampa.

“We were like, ‘Oh, well, we can go look since we have the iPads now, we can go check back on all the stats and videos and stuff,’” Wells said Thursday in a phone interview. “So we just started going through stuff like that.”

Once they did, Wells and Volpe both noticed Volpe’s batting stance looked slightly different in the 2021 videos than it had been recently with the Yankees this season.

Volpe had always set up a little more closed in his stance, but had gotten away from it of late.

“I think if you just looked at 2021 video compared to now, you could see that difference,” Wells said. “It was pretty quick.”

Anthony Volpe bats against the Red Sox on June 10.
Anthony Volpe’s stance during the June 10 game against the Red Sox.
screenshot via YouTube
screenshot via YouTube

Anthony Volpe bats against Max Scherzer on June 13.
Anthony Volpe’s stance is more closed when he faced the Mets’ Max Scherzer on June 13.
screenshot via YouTube

After playing together at Tampa, Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset over the past two seasons, at this point, Wells and Volpe pretty much know each other’s games inside and out.

“Basically my whole career I’ve played with him, so far,” Wells said. “Having him out there at shortstop, getting to watch him play every day, I definitely feel like we both have great understanding of what each of us is trying to do each and every day.”

So Volpe made the readjustment to his stance for Tuesday’s game against the Mets, and instantly reaped the rewards with an RBI double off Max Scherzer (later in the game, after an on-the-run Brandon Nimmo let a fly ball tip off his glove, Volpe was generously credited with a second double).

Wells also had a game to play Tuesday night with Double-A Somerset — and recorded a two-run double of his own — but it ended in time for him and his teammates to watch the final few innings of the Yankees’ win over the Mets.

Volpe said after the game that he had been texting “a lot” with Wells.

“He looked great,” Wells said. “He’s looked great, honestly the whole year. But things are gonna turn for him, I have no doubt about it.”

Anthony Volpe celebrates after hitting a double against the Mets.
Anthony Volpe celebrates after a double against the Mets’ Adam Ottavino, his third of the two-game Subway Series, on Wednesday night.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Volpe added another double in Wednesday’s loss to the Mets, taking an outside fastball the other way against Adam Ottavino. The solid Subway Series showing left the 22-year-old batting .192 with a .623 OPS entering Friday’s series against the Red Sox.

In theory, the closed stance should allow Volpe to have better success against outside pitches, and though it is still too early to mark this as any kind of a turning point for the rookie shortstop, the Yankees are confident that working through growing pains at the major league level will benefit Volpe in the long run.

“Seeing your best friend over the last few years going up and doing his thing at the highest level is awesome,” Wells said. “It’s amazing. If you have Anthony Volpe in your lineup, you have a very good chance of winning the game. So every game that he’s in there or every game he comes in, he’s going to give the team one of the best opportunities in all of baseball to win that day.

“I believe in him fully, and it’s really cool watching him get to go do what he loves every day.”

Wells and Volpe struck up their friendship during spring training in 2021. The Yankees selected Wells in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft — a year after Volpe was their first-round pick — but because of COVID, the University of Arizona product didn’t get to be around anyone from the team in his first year in the organization. Then, in the spring of 2021, Wells and Volpe “clicked from the get-go,” he said, and their relationship took off from there.

They lived together last season in Volpe’s childhood home while playing for Somerset. As Volpe landed in The Bronx this year, Wells returned to living in the Volpes’ basement to start this season before getting set up in an apartment close to Somerset’s TD Bank Ballpark.

Anthony Volpe celebrates with Hudson Valley Renegades teammates after hitting a walkoff home run in 2021.
Anthony Volpe (5) and Austin Wells were teammates at Single-A Hudson Valley in 2021.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

But before long — perhaps as soon as next season — Wells and Volpe could find themselves in the same lineup once again.

“Whenever it may be, it’s going to be amazing,” Wells said. “We always joke about it and talk about how awesome it’s going to be. Whenever that may be, it’s going to be really cool. I think we’re both excited for that day.”

As for that chicken parm dinner that took on a life of its own on social media?

“His family makes the best food,” Wells said, “so it was amazing.”

Want to catch a game? The Yankees schedule with links to buy tickets can be found here.

Wells knocking on Triple-A door

Wells’ season got off to a delayed start after he fractured his rib in spring training, but he has come back with a bang.

Entering Thursday, the 23-year-old catcher was batting .266 with nine home runs and a .900 OPS in 32 games with Somerset.

“I’ve been feeling great,” Wells said. “Just trying to continue to improve every day at the plate and behind it and see what happens.”

Austin Wells watches a hit with the Somerset Patriots.
Austin Wells tracks a fly ball during a Somerset game earlier this season.
Somerset Patriots

The Yankees have Carlos Narvaez and Ben Rortvedt (who just landed on the 7-day IL with a wrist bone bruise, though it is expected to be a short stint) taking up most of the catching reps at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Wells would seem to be a strong candidate to join them at some point this summer.

Wells is known for his big bat, and though there have been questions about his future position in the big leagues, he has not played anywhere in the field besides catcher (not counting DH) in his minor league career.

“Behind the plate, I’m just trying to get better in every aspect of the game,” he said. “I’m getting more comfortable behind there. Just having a slower heartbeat back there and relaxing. We have such great pitchers here, so it’s a great opportunity to get better every day behind the plate as well.”

A new arm in Somerset

Wells has been catching a few interesting pitching prospects this season at Double-A in Clayton Beeter, Richard Fitts and Yoendrys Gomez.

Another one joined the list on Thursday when the Yankees promoted right-hander Chase Hampton to Somerset from Hudson Valley.

The 21-year-old Hampton, a sixth-round pick out of Texas Tech last summer, is a fast riser, and earned the step up after posting a 2.68 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 16 walks in 47 innings at High-A.

The Judge-less outfields

Imagine seeing these outfield alignments back in spring training.

The Yankees' Jake Bauers makes a catch in left field.
Jake Bauers makes a play on a fly ball at the left field wall on June 10.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Sure, they might have made sense for some Grapefruit League action, perhaps for a trip to the opposite coast of Florida. Then again, it might have been difficult to even imagine these trios starting together repeatedly anywhere:

Willie Calhoun-Isiah Kiner-Falefa-Jake Bauers


Bauers-Billy McKinney-Calhoun







Those are the unlikely outfield combinations the Yankees have used in their nine games since Aaron Judge went down with a toe injury in Los Angeles.

The Yankees' Billy McKinney hits a double against the Mets.
Billy McKinney has started the past seven Yankees games in the outfield.
Jason Szenes for the NY Post

The situation has been even more dire without Harrison Bader, though the center fielder is expected to return from a hamstring strain Friday night.

And while Judge’s absence has been glaring — mostly in the lineup, but also in some fly balls that have fallen in right field — the crew of McKinney, Bauers, Kiner-Falefa and Calhoun actually have held their own.

“They’ve all really contributed,” manager Aaron Boone said recently. “Those guys have absolutely taken advantage of opportunities and been instrumental in helping us win some games. Credit to them for earning those opportunities, but then also taking advantage of them.”

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