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Anthony Volpe of the Yankees or Jordan Walker of the Cardinals in 2023? sports

The emergence of Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker and Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe were two of the biggest stories to come out of spring training, as MLB Pipeline No. 4 and No. 5 prospects clinched spots in their teams’ respective Opening Day rosters.

The two youngsters — Walker turning 21 next month while Volpe turns 22 in a few weeks — each made their major league debuts on Opening Day. But who will have the biggest impact throughout 2023?

We posed that question to 20 front office executives, asking them if they thought Walker or Volpe would have a better season.

A whopping 75 percent chose Volpe (15 votes), while Walker was the choice of only a quarter of those polled (five votes).

“I would have to go with Volpe, because he’s going to accumulate more on the bases, and with his defense, that should give him a boost,” said one National League executive. “If you play well at shortstop in the big leagues, that will help your WAR.”

Several of the executives used projected WAR as the yardstick to determine which rookie will have the best season, which theoretically favors Volpe because of his position.

“My knee-jerk reaction was Volpe for a lot, just for defensive value,” said an American League executive. “However, with what Walker has produced in the Minors and the fact that he’s more than a year younger, he makes me think he’s pretty close. I want to say Walker because the Volpe/Yankees hype is probably too much, but at the end of the day, I’m going to go for the top defensive position and hit with more power on Volpe.”

“The easy tiebreaker is Volpe’s ability on dirt,” said one National League executive. “Walker can really hit, but he’s tough in the outfield and the Cards do a good job of rotating guys a bit, so he could lessen the overall impact of him if he only plays five days a week. Volpe could impact the game in all three phases every day.”

“Volpe is ahead defensively; Combine that with the fact that Walker is a natural infielder who plays the outfield to make the roster, he could experience some learning curves and adjustments in the big leagues,” another NL executive said. “Obviously they’re both impact players, but I think Volpe should be more comfortable in his role and have a better season.”

Volpe earned the starting shortstop job for the Yankees after hitting .309 in the Grapefruit League with three home runs, five doubles, five RBIs, a 1.033 OPS and five stolen bases in five attempts, surpassing Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the process. .

Walker matched Volpe’s three home runs and five doubles, but drove in nine runs compared to Volpe’s five. Walker’s OPS was .791 in spring training, the main difference coming from their total walks (Volpe drew nine free passes to Walker’s two), while each striking out 15 times.

Walker showed earlier this spring just how impactful his bat can be, going 9-for-18 with five extra-base hits.

“Interestingly, I think Volpe’s game is less dynamic (than Walker’s) and I think dynamic players take a little longer to get going in the big leagues,” an American League executive said. “Volpe is stable and has a solid surrounding cast. The biggest problem with Volpe is that he’s in New York.”

“Volpe has a very advanced feel for the game offensively and I believe in his opportunity to stay at shortstop,” another AL executive said. “Although Volpe struggled a bit in Triple-A last year, he appears to have made adjustments in spring training and has time in Triple-A under his belt, where Walker hasn’t had a plate appearance over Double-A. Walker’s raw power is extremely impressive, but I do have some concerns about potential hit-and-miss and swing-chasing from him at the major league level. They are both really exciting players who have the opportunity to be impact players.”

In addition to his position, which was the biggest differentiator for most of the voters who elected him, Volpe’s hitting skills stood out to several executives.

“A good shortstop defense means Volpe has a better chance to stay in the big leagues,” said an American League executive. “I also think Walker’s approach — high chase, high smell, low walk — puts him at risk of underperforming and getting picked.”

“While Walker can blow you away with his power, the jump from the minors to the majors is tough, and I think Volpe will be able to adjust to the big league pitch more quickly,” another AL executive said. “Between being a patient hitter and pure contact ability, I think it’s going to be easier for him to fight strikeouts at this early stage in his career.”

An American League general manager chose Volpe with the idea of ​​”going for the most complete player who will contribute on both sides of the ball.” The general manager added that Volpe’s profile as a contact hitter should “make him less prone to slumps.”

“Volpe’s batted ball profile is better,” said another AL decision maker. “A lot less swing and miss, and he’s going to be asked to do less offensively than Walker.”

MLB Pipeline’s scouting ratings list Walker with a 50 on fielding and a 70 on his arm, while Volpe received a 50 on both.

“I see (Walker) on his way to NL Rookie of the Year with offensive impact,” said an American League executive who voted for the St. Louis outfielder. “I’m confident the Cardinals will deploy him in a way that helps him get acclimated.”

Another Walker voter said his premium power “more than makes up for the defensive differences” between the two.

“Walker’s strikeout percentage is a little worrying,” said an American League executive who gave Volpe a slight lead. “But he hits the ball so hard.”

An American League executive noted that a “better season” can be interpreted in different ways, saying he believes both players have a chance to make an impact “right away.”

“Walker’s lead is obviously through the roof, but there could be some growing pains, especially against right-handed pitching, with the jump from Double-A,” the American League executive said. “That being said, I think he’ll have enough slugging to combat any difficulty and end up with a solid offensive line. He also looks comfortable in right field. Volpe will add significant value at shortstop, and I expect him to be a consistent presence in the lineup throughout the year. They may not be flashy offensive numbers, but he’ll control the zone and hit some good at-bats. He skirts Walker, but he’s close.”

Although Volpe was the choice of an overwhelming majority of the executives surveyed, the general belief was that both players have the tools to become All-Star-caliber players for years to come.

“I would be very happy to add any of them to our lineup,” said one National League executive. “These guys seem to be the real deal.”



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