Now that the MLB draft is over and teams no longer have to worry about Super Two status for the year, it’s time for top prospects to get the call up to the majors. The Yankees seem to be preparing to make moves, as second baseman Rob Refsnyder was promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In accordance with the move, Jose Pirela, the second baseman before Refsnyder came to town, has been moved to first base.
Moving Pirela to first base is interesting for a number of reasons. First, Pirela is currently leading in votes at second for the Triple-A All-Star game. Refsnyder’s second base ability leaves much to be desired, so in my eyes there is only one explanation. The Yankees are giving Pirela an opportunity to move around the infield so that he can be called up to the bigs and take over the failed Kelly Johnson experiment. While Johnson started out strong this season, he has done little since and has overstayed his welcome. Along with Johnson, Brian Roberts has been playing the way everyone other than the Yankees office predicted, terribly. If success is seen for RefSnyder at the Triple-A level, he may come up soon after Pirela gets his chance.
Replacing Johnson and Roberts with Pirela and Refsnyder is a move the Yankees are not used to making. This is the team that almost always squeezes the last ounce of playing ability out of a player. Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano (last year anyway), and Ichiro Suzuki (in 2012) come to mind. Unfortunately lately, the Yankees have been striking out with Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and now Johnson and Roberts. The Yankees are obviously opposed to paying for older, proven talent. So the possibility of bringing up a 24-year-old Pirela and a 23-year-old Refsnyder is both fascinating and a great change in front office mentality.
This season, Pirela is tearing up Triple-A with a .329 batting average with 4 home runs and 42 runs scored in 57 games. Refsnyder hit .342 with a .385 on base percentage in 60 games in Double-A Trenton. He went 2-for-4 in his first game in Triple-A Scranton. Even if there is a bit of a learning curve with major league pitching, it should not be difficult for the pair to surpass Johnson and Roberts, as they both sit near the Mendoza line.
Yangervis Solarte was not expected to be a major contributor for the Yankees this season, but the rookie has exceeded all expectations. In the near future we should see the Pirela and Refsnyder experiments begin. If they play anywhere nearly as well as Solarte, the Yankees would have one of the most impressive rookie infields in baseball and will finally start scoring some runs.