The New York Yankees don’t seem to view utilityman Rob Refsnyder as a legitimate option at second or third base, the positions where he is best suited.
It’s unclear whether New York Yankees starting second baseman Starlin Castro will play again in 2016 after suffering a Grade 1 hamstring strain Saturday against the Red Sox. The team promoted Triple-A infielder Donovan Solano for additional infield depth and have him the start at second in Sunday’s loss.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said he plans to use a combination of Solano and Ronald Torreyes going forward, which seems like a strange decision with Rob Refsnyder, a guy who looked like the heir apparent to the job as recently as last October, on the roster.
Admittedly, Solano and Torreyes have had nice seasons. Solano hit .319/.349/.436 in 546 plate appearances for Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, earning him a spot on the International League All-Star team, albeit at age 28. The infielder went 1-for-4 with a run scored Sunday and does have over 1000 big league PAs with Miami on his resume.
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Torreyes has also been surprisingly good this year after a slow start, hitting .268/.323/.398 in 135 PA while making it the entire year as the Yankees utility infielder. He’s probably not a starter, but has shown definite promise as a quality role player.
Also, it is worth noting that Rob Refsnyder is playing, just in right field, which is where Girardi seems most comfortable penciling him in and his position in college. Refsnyder is never going to make it as even a fourth outfielder, however. He just doesn’t have the bat for it.
If Rob Refsnyder is going to make it as a big leaguer, it will be as an infielder. Even after acquitting himself well at second base in 12 September starts in 2015, Girardi seems strangely unwilling to play Refsnyder there, even when there is a clear need. Refsnyder has just 37 innings at the keystone this year and one long inning at third.
While he’ll never be an above-average defender at either spot, Refsnyder is certainly playable at both positions. With the Yankees more or less out of the playoff’s, shouldn’t they be focusing on developing their key guys?
Girardi has been making similar bizarre lineup decisions at other positions, for example starting Billy Butler, a player released by the last-place Oakland Athletics, over promising young first baseman Tyler Austin.
The manager is going to need to show a little more faith in guys like Refsnyder and Austin going forward if they are going to progress. They may not be future stars, but their odds of being a part of the next great Yankees team way are better than Solano’s or Butler’s.
When Aaron Hicks returns from the disabled list and presumably takes over in right, Rob Refsnyder should get the lion’s share of the playing time at second base, but everything we’ve seen from Joe Girardi recently indicates that won’t happen.