The only way we should compare Anthony Volpe to Derek Jeter

TAMPA — We can’t help ourselves. The eyes don’t lie. The Phenom, no matter what sport, takes our breath away. They all seem destined for greatness. Too many of them never get there.

Anthony Volpe will get there. Of that, there is little doubt in and around George M. Steinbrenner Field.

“This kid has an incredible, incredible, incredible future ahead of him for sure,” Nelson Cortes told The Post.

The kid is too good to be true. The kid whose story is too good to be true. The New Jersey shortstop who worshipped Derek Jeter from childhood. And still does.

And so of course we anoint him as The Next Derek Jeter, it’s what we do, and as unfair to Anthony Volpe as that may be right now, at a time when he is earning his pinstripes and has yet to play in a major league game, no one doubts that he will grow to handle the great expectations.

“As a big Jeter and Yankee fan,” Volpe said at his locker, with a smile that seems frozen on his face, “I don’t think there’s gonna be any player come close to him, so I don’t think that any comparison’s really warranted.”

Here’s the better comparison: Anthony Volpe can remind us of The Young Derek Jeter … before The Captain captured five rings, before he wound up in Cooperstown on a first ballot marred only by one lone dissenter.

“Gotta be the captain and play for 20 years here if you want to, I think, be compared to Derek Jeter,” Gerrit Cole told The Post. “I’m sure he’s flattered though.”

Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe #77, in the field blowing a bubble
The expectations for Anthony Volpe are high — Derek Jeter high.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

“It is unfair,” former Yankees captain Willie Randolph told The Post, “but the thing is that it doesn’t have to be a comparison. I look more at just the way they carry themselves.”

Volpe, 22 next month, only needs to concern himself with being Volpe right now. “When you’re that young you just want to be Volpe,” Aaron Hicks said. “You just want to kinda start your own legacy, but the thing about comparisons is it only gets worse if you put yourself in a position where you think you have to live up to that.”

To wit: the Mets’ Generation K — Bill Pulsipher, Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen. Gregg Jeffries ring a bell? Former Yankees No. 1 overall pick Brien Taylor? Kid Volpe is mature beyond his years and carries himself like he belongs.

“First of all I want to keep eyes on him, OK? Because we in this game try to annoint kids right away as the best thing since sliced bread, and I don’t believe in that,” Randolph said. “I believe that you have to give them a sample size of where you put your eyes on ’em, see the rhythm of how they move on the field. So when I talk about infielders, I’m looking for rhythm, I’m looking for a body clock, those type of things that you really can’t teach, but good athletes understand that. Hitting-wise, I haven’t seen him hit a whole lot, I like his approach, I think he’s strong. But you gotta make adjustments on the fly all the time.

“So I try not to get too gaga over kids even though I like what I see, ’cause when I see talent, I like to try to help that talent along, and I think he’s the kinda kid who’s very adaptable, he wants to be the best, he wants to be really good, OK? And when a guy comes with that attitude, a player, you have a chance to help him get better.”

Ron Guidry was Randolph’s co-captain from 1975-88.

“Sure I think it’s unfair right now … he’s just starting on the horizon,” Guidry told The Post. “Derek was here [in spring training] in ’94, ’95, but you gotta watch him grow and see how he goes about his business. I think he’ll be fine. He’s got the makings of a good ballplayer.”

Yankees SS Derek Jeter loosens up with a bat
Comparing Volpe to Derek Jeter, especially at this point in his career, is unfair.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

The Young Jeter was a 6-foot-3 string bean whose defense concerned The Boss enough to consider making a deal for a veteran shortstop to start on Opening Day.

“We’ll be patient with him,” The Boss said at the time. “Every year you look for Derek Jeter to stumble, and he just doesn’t. He dominated rookie ball, so we moved him to [Single]-A, and he dominated there. We sent him to Double-A, and he dominated there. At [Triple-A] Columbus it was the same thing. I’m telling you, he could be one of the special ones.”

When The Young Jeter started 0-for-11 at the plate in 1996 spring training, Joe Torre moderated his own expectations.

“If he hits .240 and plays solid defense,” Torre said, “he’ll be fine.”

Volpe is a sturdy 5-11, 180 with good power.

“Great spark,” Cole said. “Really nice swing. Good footwork, good hands. Really hungry.”

Cole mentioned Volpe’s situational awareness on the field.

“For as young as he is, he’s pretty polished,” Aaron Hicks said. “He doesn’t seem nervous out there. … 10 o’clock and we don’t have lives (BP) for another hour and he’s in the cage grinding right now. I like that, that he’s hungry and he wants to be here.”

New York Yankees Anthony Volpe #77, at bat
Volpe has impressed his Yankees teammates and some franchise legends this spring.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

How Volpe handles failure will be the test.

“He has the same demeanor every single day,” Clay Holmes said, “and I think that says a lot about him.”

They all say a lot about him.

“I’ve always learned to try and be the best version of yourself,” Cortes said. “Obviously, it’s incredible to be compared to one of the greats in the game, but I think you gotta give him an opportunity to be who he wants to be and who he plans out to be or plays out to be.

“I don’t think it’s unfair. He faces that real well, I think he’s embracing that, and I’m sure he’s gonna perform well.”

From his mouth 2 Yankees ears.