Anthony Volpe and Jack Leiter have shared a lot of experiences in their four years on the Delbarton baseball team.
Both earned gold medals with the United States under-18 national team at the Pan-American Championships in December. Both signed with Vanderbilt University, which is heading for a NCAA Super Regional this weekend. Last month, Leiter was on the mound and Volpe scored both runs as the Green Wave won the Morris County Tournament title.
Both were projected as potential first-round picks in the Major League Baseball draft. They graduated from Delbarton together on Sunday afternoon.
But only Volpe, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Delbarton shortstop, heard his name called on Monday night. He was selected in the first round, No. 30 overall, by the New York Yankees.
The Green Wave baseball team was together at Volpe’s Watchung home, sharing the celebration.
“He got drafted by the team that he’s always dreamed of playing for,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said. “It just worked out that way. I know that he’s thrilled and so are his teammates.”
While Volpe had decided he would play professional baseball if drafted high enough, Leiter chose a different path. He is planning to honor his commitment to pitch at Vanderbilt, a fact his father, former MLB lefty Al Leiter, has made very clear in the past few weeks.
Volpe is the first New Jersey high school player taken with the Yankees’ first selection since third baseman and Florham Park resident Eric Duncan out of Seton Hall Prep in 2003. Volpe is the first Major League Baseball draftee out of Delbarton in Shatel’s 11 seasons at the Morristown school.
Per MLB.com, his projected signing bonus would be $2.37 million should he decide to play professionally.
“We like a lot about him,” Yankees Vice-President of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said in a statement released by the club Monday night.
“He’s going to be a shortstop. The guy can hit, he can run, he’s got plus actions, he’s got really good hands, and he’s got a shortstop’s arm. He’s got tools. He’s been on the big stage with the USA national teams, so he’s got performance, and with a deluxe makeup, the kid brings it every day.”
— Bruce Shatel (@bshatel) June 4, 2019
During MLB Network’s draft coverage, former Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, who grew up in Montville, said he “loved the kid’’ and praised Volpe’s instincts for the game.
“He’s always in the right place at the right time, he’s an exceptional defensive infielder,’’ O’Dowd said Monday night. “Great glove-to-hand transfer.’’
Offensively, “he’s a solid average-to-plus runner, and I like the bat. He’s not undersized for me because there’s strength in the body.’’
Volpe is batting .500 with four doubles, six triples, seven home runs — including the game-winning solo shot in the MCT final — 36 runs scored and 33 RBI as a senior. A rare freshman on the Green Wave varsity, Volpe has a .486 career average.
Jack Leiter is expected to be on the mound, with Volpe behind him at shortstop, as Delbarton plays St. Augustine for the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship Wednesday at Veterans Park in Hamilton.
“He’s the best shortstop in the country, defensively,” Leiter said of Volpe after the MCT final. “I know personally, from facing him over the summer, he’s the hardest out to get in the country. It doesn’t really get any better than him, having him behind you. Every time I reset, he’s always there, ‘Get ahead, get ahead, attack the next guy.’ He’s helpful, mentally, helpful, confidence-wise, knowing my shortstop is going to make all those plays.”