New York Yankees prospect TJ Rumfield began 2022 anonymously, but his bat has done plenty of talking thus far at High-A Hudson Valley. And while questions of sustainability are always valid, would it shock anyone if another middle-infield prospect followed in Josh Smith and Anthony Volpe’s footsteps and leveled up after spending time in the Yankees’ workshop?
Rumfield, selected in the 12th round of the 2021 MLB Draft out of Virginia Tech, got his first taste of pro ball with the Phillies at Low-A Clearwater last summer. In a largely secret 27-game sample, he hit just .250, but got on base at a ridiculous clip (.426) and whiffed just 11 times in 76 official at-bats.
Clearly, the Yankees’ braintrust saw something they could work with, and snuck Rumfeld into their 40-man-roster-dump trade of Nick Nelson and Donny Sands to Philadelphia this past November.
At the time, his acquisition raised very few eyebrows, barely meriting mention in our 40-man shuffle coverage. Now? He’s making an early push for road teams at the High-A level to raise their fences.
In a crowded infield picture, Rumfield’s early work is still standing out and shining through.
At the start of this week’s series, he led all Yankees minor leaguers with a .412 average, and is now an impressive 15-for-40 with a 1.108 OPS. At the very least, he has become 2022’s version of Trevor Hauver, a piece of infield depth who’s made himself into a tradable asset thanks to a flaming start.
Yankees prospect TJ Rumfield could be an infield steal from the Phillies
In an effort to take the good with the bad, it should be noted that Rumfield has nearly matched his 2021 strikeout production in half the at-bats (eight whiffs in 34 ABs), though part of that comes with the territory. He’s now been indoctrinated with the knowledge of how to hit strikes hard. Sometimes, that means you miss when you’re not drilling gappers.
On a more positive note, he’s racked up 25 total bases in those 34 at-bats, ripping five doubles and two bombs while knocking in 10 runs.
Don’t call him a “nondescript middle infielder,” either. Rumfield’s always had a bit of an edge to him dating back to his pre-transfer days at Texas Tech, when he peacocked after a walk-off so hard he made his teammates chase him around the spacious outfield.
With a blazing start at a higher level than he played at last season, Rumfield has certainly taken the lead over other potential forgotten middle infield breakouts like 2021 fourth-rounder Cooper Bowman and 10th-rounder Benjamin Cowles (both, uh, also playing well, for what it’s worth).
At the time, acquiring anything at all for Nelson felt like a win, even though Sands possessed a good story and a potent bat. Knowing Rumfield could have genuine, untapped value turns this minor trade into an even bigger potential win.