Yankees Rob Refsnyder to Become Ben Zobrist Lite?


Yankees’ prospect Rob Refsnyder has been assigned to add another infield position to his repertoire. The organization has thrown the converted second baseman into the fray for back-up possibilities at the hot corner. What could this mean for Refsnyder’s future with the team?

It certainly seems like the Yankees are having a good time tossing players at new positions and seeing what happens, doesn’t it? When it comes to Refsnyder, never before have I been more excited and concerned at the same time.

When news broke that Brian Cashman had snagged Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs during last year’s Winter Meetings, Refsnyder’s future with the organization appeared severely jeopardized. Only two paths seemed destined for the Yankees prospect: (1) Stash him in Triple-A for injury insurance and further develop his defense for trade value, or (2) make room for him on the MLB roster and find a way to utilize his polished bat.

My father always told me throughout my baseball upbringing, “Keep hitting the ball and you’ll force them to find a spot for you on the field.” Maybe he actually knew a thing or two.

It took an off-season of contemplation, but an evolution in the team’s thinking is making room for Refsnyder with the only way they know how: Versatility. They hope to slot both Refsnyder and Castro in the depth charts behind third baseman Chase Headley.

Both infielders are still learning second base, as Castro was moved over from shortstop and Refsnyder was pulled in from right field to learn the position after being drafted. But the Yankees third base coach and infield coordinator in charge of ‘Project Refsnyder’, Joe Espada, told NJ Advance Media that he believes Refsnyder has the necessary make-up to handle the position.

“I think athletically, he can do it. Then there comes the mindset of, is his mind ready to do it? I think it is. Now it’s all about narrowing those things in spring training and finding out if he could do it or not.” – Joe Espada

Not to flog a dead horse here, but the largest barrier to Refsnyder’s ceiling has unsurprisingly been his defense. Measuring with a complicated defensive metric known as the “Eye Test,” I could understand why the scouting reports were skittish on deeming him ready for the infield at the time of his MLB debut. His footwork was clunky, his mechanics weren’t fluent, and he rushed to make plays, causing his glove and throws to be jittery. But after a demotion to Triple-A, something clicked.

Once Refsnyder got his second substantial chance with the Yankees he ran away with it, settling down and making the routine plays, mixing in a couple of flashy grabs, and concluding the season with a slash line of .302/.348/.512 with two home-runs (one of them measured at 436 feet).

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