Over the past few weeks, the Yankee “Twitterverse” has been quite excited about second baseman Rob Refsnyder, who certainly grabbed attention by hitting .342 in 60 games at Double-A Trenton.
The questions about this 23-year-old from Laguna Hills, Calif., who attended the University of Arizona before being drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round in 2012, came hot and heavy like this:
“He’s ready to replace Brian Roberts right now, isn’t he?”
“Why haven’t the Yankees called him up already?”
Refsnyder is a good guy. All he wants to do is “continue to work to get better and help whatever team I am part of.” His bat was impressive during his time in Trenton. Is he ready to play second base for the Yankees? Not so fast.
Naturally a .342 (78-for-228) with 19 doubles will impress the casual observer. Also might the fact he hit .283 (117-for-413) at Class-A Advanced Tampa in 2013. Offensively, the right-hander showed a quick bat, good plate recognition and an ability to hit in the clutch in Trenton.
The .342 over 60 games was something of a surprise, but it earned him the natural promotion, to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is 3-for-12 in three starts entering Saturday play. SWB is at Columbus tonight.
Most observers feel he will hit Triple-A pitching. It will be a good test, facing a lot of pitchers with big-league experience. Offense is not his problem. Getting better at second base is his challenge.
Whether or not Refsnyder will succeed at second base is still an open question. He is still learning the position. During his time in Trenton, shifting defenses, which the Yankees are using at all levels this season, seemed to confuse him at times. This is not castigating the player, just explaining he has things to master defensively.
If Refsnyder proves adequate and capable at second base, there is a legitimate chance he could help the Yankees in 2015. In addition to working on his defense, the player must continue to hit for a solid average. The fact he somewhat surprised offensively in Trenton is to his credit.
Obviously a better judge of what he will do offensively in Triple-A will be what he has done after 35-40 games to be fair.
Refsnyder is kind of like SWB teammate Jose Pirela, who is hitting .326 in 59 games at SWB. Pirela has always showed he has the bat, which is why many in the Yankees’ development hierarchy like him. Pirela has been tried at shortstop, second base and the outfield. He was not good at the former and just adequate at the latter.
This corner thinks the Yankees, if they were to call up a player, might opt for Pirela, who is just adequate at second base, over Refsnyder. The opinion here was Scott Sizemore could help, but the Yankees gave him a few brief shots,
What’s good about the Refsnyder debate, and the presence of players such as slugging first baseman Kyle Roller and power-bat Peter O’Brien at Trenton is it shows the Yankees system is beginning to produce position players. The system has produced pitchers. Look at Friday night’s 7-0 win at Oakland in which home-grown David Phelps, Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez combined to blank the Athletics.
Refsnyder will get his chance. He’s just not ready yet.