In late 2021, with the eventually canceled Rule 5 draft supposedly looming, the Yankees made a number of moves to clear out 40-man spots. Clint Frazier found himself cut loose. Rougned Odor was jettisoned. Long-time Yankee Tyler Wade hit the open market.
And, days after being added to the 40-man for what felt like protection, catcher Donny Sands was packed with reliever Nick Nelson and sent to Philadelphia for a pair of younger prospects.
Sands eventually made his MLB debut with the Phillies, something that may never have happened in a Yankees uniform (he worked a walk in four plate appearances, and is now with the Tigers' Triple-A club in Toledo). Nelson pitched in the (gulp) 2022 World Series (scoreless inning), but his regular season was still familiarly uneven. He's now working his way back through the minors and battling hamstring issues.
As for the Yankees' return? Infielder T.J. Rumfield, a lefty-swinging primary third baseman, debuted with a bang in 2022, hitting .284 with a .381 OBP in 52 games with the Hudson Valley Renegades. This season, his work with Double-A Somerset has opened the eyes of the game's top prospect-ranking scouts. After 39 Double-A games, Rumfield went from unranked in Baseball America's preseason Yankees Top 30 list to No. 17 in their midseason update.
Yankees trade Nick Nelson, Donny Sands for Baseball America's fast-rising No. 17 Prospect
Any time a left-handed bat is on helium alert, Yankees fans should have their collective interest piqued.
The funniest part is that Rumfield's numbers, on the surface this season, don't quite pop. He's seen an uptick in home run power (seven in 39 games after four in 52 games at the lower level last year), but his average has sagged (.234) and his OPS is down from near-.800 to .750, as his doubles have skidded from 13 to five.
Still, America's preeminent prospect ranker likes what it sees from the third baseman, who's had to fight through a crowded prospect picture at Somerset to get on anyone's radar. Maybe his increased ranking came from so many scouts flocking to see Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells and Trey Sweeney and falling in love with someone else's profile instead?
Rumfield has yet to receive the same love from MLB Pipeline; he's still unranked, heading into midsummer. Instead, fellow hot commodity Jared Serna (.316, .890 OPS in Low-A Tampa) graduated onto that list when Anthony Volpe passed the prospect threshold this spring.
It's still plenty noteworthy that the two publications differ, and one has planted their flag early on a player the other one has shied away from covering. If you make the trip down to Somerset, make sure to follow BA's advice and train your eyes on the third baseman from the Nick Nelson trade rubble.
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