Has there ever been a more-debated Yankees prospect than second baseman Rob Refsnyder?
There are fans who are simply taken by the 24-year-old, selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2012 June Draft, mainly off 60 appearances with the Trenton Thunder in 2014 in which Refsnyder batted .342 (78-for-228).
Since then – he hit .300 (86-f0r-287) in 77 2014 games with Scranton, then .271 (122-for-450) in 117 contests with the RailRiders and .302 (13-for-43) in 16 Yankees games in 2015, there have been calls by many to install him as the club’s regular second baseman.
There have been many who have hardly seen him – outside these 16 games and the American League Wild Card affair – who “expertly” hail the 24-year-old as the savior of the franchise.
In all seriousness, we can see the excitement of the fans. Refsnyder can hit. He is a home-grown prospect. He brings young legs and energy to the Yankees.
We also wish he was ready to move right into the Yankees’ lineup in 2016. Offense, however, is only half the game. His defense, and reactions at the second-base position are still in the working stages. Refsnyder has improved in those areas, but it is not quite there yet.
At this point, he reminds a veteran observer of Dan Uggla with not as much power and a better overall batting eye. Whether that is enough is a good question, but enough of one that relays the jury is still out on Refsnyder.
‘We’ve seen him play several dozen times, and, to be honest, his defense is not consistent at present.
And no, we don;t dislike the player. Again, nothing would be better than to see Refsnyder complete his game. He is a perfect No. 2 hitter in a Yankees lineup. He is a much-better hitter than Stephen Drew and likely Dustin Ackley, which makes him a starter in 2016 a possibility.
Back in Trenton in 2014, while he gave Eastern League pitchers headache after headache, he also made it known he really didn’t like playing the shifts required for the position and seemed confused at times. Perhaps that was a 22-year-old player in the upper minors for the first time getting over a hurdle – and performance has improved – but it also showed how far he had to come at second base.
Last spring in Florida, Refsnyder made six errors in 44 chances at second base. The Yankees need more of a sample to decide.
One of two things will happen. Refsnyder will either win the spot at second base in spring training, or he may be packaged in a trade, maybe with catcher Gary Sanchez, over the winter to bring back a piece the Yankees need.
In favor of he first alternative is Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, who has made Refsnyder’s maturation into a big-league second baseman. He wants Refsnyder to succeed in pinstripes if at all possible. So do we, as a matter of record.
He is a right-handed hitter – a glaring need for the Yankees – who can bat .300 id all goes well and perhaps eventually add 15 home runs.
But if events put the second alternative into play, that is how it will be. In that case, Cashman and the front office could sacrifice Refsnyder.
As the late Walter Cronkite used to close his CBS News broadcasts, “That’s the way it is.”