Pinstripe Preview: Rob Refsnyder

Once viewed as one of the organization's top prospects, Yankees 1B/2B/OF  Rob Refsnyder has seemingly become a forgotten man over the last year.  After being drafted in the 5th round of the amateur player draft in 2012 out of Arizona, Refsnyder quickly rose through the ranks of the then-depleted Yankees farm system.  His best tool has always been his hitting ability, however, he missed out on a golden opportunity to carve out his role on the 2015 team because of his lackluster fielding.  That Yankees squad was running out Stephen Drew every day and was begging for an upgrade – one that Refsnyder could not follow through on.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Lost among the bounty of top tier young talent the organization now houses, Refsnyder still holds a place on the 40-man roster, however, it is unclear what the future holds for him.  Ranked as the Yankees seventh best prospect as recently as last spring, Refsnyder no longer is viewed as a key cog in the team's rebuilding, and perhaps, might not play any role at all with the organization in 2017.  As rumors swirl this week that the Yankees are exploring trades for Refsnyder, let's take a look back at his 2016 season and forecast what the future might hold for him.

2016 Review

Despite a strong showing in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season (.316/.365/.402), Refsnyder was unable to make a true impact once he was called up to the Majors.  Initially brought up as a first base stopgap in place of the injured Mark Teixeira and Chris Parmalee, Refsnyder ultimately saw time at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF) in 2016. 

While has wasn't completely incapable with the bat in his hands – he hit .250 with an on-base percentage of .328 – there was one glaring weakness in his game, that being in the power department.  Over 175 at-bats at the Major League level last season, Refsnyder failed to hit a single home run, and racked up only nine total extra base hits (all doubles), leading to a low slugging percentage of just .309.  In fact, four of Refsnyder's nine doubles came within his first six games from the time he was called up, further emphasizing how little he offered over the course of the season.

While Refsnyder continued to get a fair amount of playing time through the end of the season – predominantly in the outfield – it was starting to become clear that the high ceiling the Yankees had forecasted for him over the past few years might be out of reach.

2017 Outlook

Barring a torrid stretch over the next two weeks of Spring Training, or a rash of injuries to players currently ahead of him on the depth chart, Refsnyder shouldn't be expected to break the big league roster next month. He does provide interesting depth as a utility player with experience if Ronald Torreyes goes down with an injury and the Yankees are not yet ready to bring the kids up, however, you'd have to wonder whether the Yankees value stashing him in AAA over what return they might get for him in a trade.

I would expect Brian Cashman to explore every available option to move Refsnyder this spring, however, as he's shown in the past with players like Chase Headley and Brett Gardner, if the return just isn't right, Refsnyder's value as depth in the organization is worth something.  My best guess is that Refsnyder is not moved before April, but he immediately becomes a nice trade chip around the deadline should he head to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and play well.

Unfortunately, I just don't see Rob Refsnyder ever becoming the player the Yankees were hoping for him to be over the past two seasons.  With young guys like Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, Blake Rutherford, Tyler Wade and Dustin Fowler seemingly trending in the right direction, while Refsnyder may have missed his chance, you'd have to wonder if this once prized prospect will ever make the true impact in the Major Leagues, with New York or any other team, that so many scouts once predicted he would.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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