Is Robert Refsnyder the Next Big Thing at Second Base for the Yankees?
New York Yankees 2015
New to the second base position
Robert Refsnyder moved from right field to second base shortly after signing his professional contract with the Yankees. He now has played parts of three seasons, including two full seasons in the Yankees farm system as a second base prospect. As a very good athlete with quick feet, Refsnyder has more than enough range to excel at the second base position where he is now fielding ground balls rather than running down fly balls like he did up until signing with New York. This right handed hitter who also throws right handed, grades out as close to average in every aspect of the game. Based on his production however, Refsnyder has regularly displayed the ability to be an above average player. His selectiveness at the plate allows him to make the most out of every at bat by getting his pitch to hit a higher percentage of the time when compared to other hitters. His defense is a work in progress, but as of right now there is nothing to suggest he will not be able to play second base at the Major League level. He has more power than the scouts give him credit for, and a closer look at his skills will help to determine what to expect from him in the big leagues as he continues to make the transition into an everyday second basemen.
Scout's evaluation vs. Minor League production
The latest scouting grades on Robert Refsnyder on the 20-80 scale from MLB Prospect Watch, read as follows. Twenty is the worst possible grade, with 80 being the best possible grade. A grade of 50 is considered to be exactly at the average.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
This scouting grade would suggest that Robert Refsnyder is a very average player among prospects throughout baseball, but his production in the upper levels of the Yankees' farm system would suggest otherwise. Refsnyder will be age 24 for opening day 2015, which means he played a significant period of time at the triple-A level last season at a level appropriate age of 23 years old. Refsnyder's ability to excel with a .933 OPS at double-A last season and an .845 OPS at triple-A last season, suggest that he has the potential to become a well above average offensive player. What these scouting grades fail to take into account, is that Refsnyder's selectiveness at the plate allows him to produce batting averages and on base percentages that would typically belong to a player with a hitting ability grade that is significantly better than 55 on the 20-80 scale. With a player that is so close to the big leagues like Refsnyder is, the scouting grades are an attempt to show how his skills will translate at the highest level. The indications for Refsnyder after each promotion are very good however, which gives him the potential to exceed these grades at the Major League level.
On the above grading scale, Refsnyder's power grade is given a number that suggests he has below average power hitting ability. Refsnyder has done plenty to show that he has at least average and maybe above average power, with the production in professional baseball so far. At 6'1" and over 200 pounds, Refsnyder has more than enough strength to hit the ball over the fence consistently when he puts a charge into a fly ball. However Refsnyder is not a fly ball hitter, rather a player who consistently squares up the baseball with line drive contact. His extra base hit totals throughout the 2014 season support that Refsnyder is able to generate a powerful swing despite being a hitter that generates more ground ball contact than fly ball contact.
Last season Refsnyder was able to play at least 60 games at two of the top levels of the Yankees farm system. At each level he produced 19 doubles for a total of 38 in 137 games played throughout the regular season. With five triple at double-A and one triple at triple-A, he was able to produce 42 extra base hits that stayed in the ballpark. Further proof that Refsnyder has above average power is his homerun total. In 60 games played at double-A last season he hit six homeruns, and in 77 games played at triple-A last season he hit eight homeruns. This left his homerun total at 14 for the 137 regular season games he played, while also bringing his extra base hit total to 54 over those games played at two different levels. Refsnyder proved that he has above average power by producing extra base hits at a better than one per ten at bats rate, along with producing a combined .497 slugging percentage in the upper levels of the Yankees' farm system at just 23 years old.
Baseball America's highlight video for Refsnyder
Being adept at drawing walks
For a player like Robert Refsnyder, this is a skill that players have that allows them to complement their hit tool nicely. A player's ability to hit the baseball as measured on the 20-80 scale, does not take into account that player being adept at drawing walks. While a hit tool grade can be determined by watching batting practice where balls and strikes do not determine the outcome of each swing, being adept at drawing walks adds to the player's offensive production in actual games. The outcome of Refsnyder's at bats are going to reflect a better than 55 grade on the hit tool, because some of the at bats where he sees pitches he can't handle, he ends up drawing a walk to get on base anyway. While Refsnyder has not yet played three full seasons in professional baseball, he was able to put this skill to good use last season when he reached the top level of the Yankees' farm system.
Rob Refsnyder drew 55 walks compared to his 105 strikeouts in all 137 games he played last season. This put him at over one walk for every two times that he struck out last season. While this is an impressive number, what he was able to do at the triple-A level signaled his growth and development into an MLB ready offensive player. After drawing just 14 walks to the 38 strikeouts he had in 60 games at the double-A level, Refsnyder showed a willingness to grind out at bats in his 77 games at triple-A. With the deep counts that Refsnyder worked at the triple-A level, came 67 strikeouts in those 77 games played. The positive aspect to this confident approach at the plate, was the 41 walks that he was able to draw at the most advance level before his call up to the Yankees' MLB roster. Through hard work and selectiveness at the plate, Refsnyder was able to develop a very advanced approach at the plate which should translate very well for him at the Major League level. Having an adeptness to draw walks should work to complement Refsnyder's above average hit tool nicely as he tries to make an impact for the Yankees as a big league second basemen.
Is Refsnyder the Yankees future second basemen?
Refsnyder's work ethic and natural ability to play baseball puts him in great position to take over the Yankees second base job in the near future. Him being new to the position has not held him back so far, as his fundamental approach to the game of baseball has allowed him to make a smooth transition to second base. With his work ethic, there is very little question about Refsnyder's defensive skills as a potential second basemen of the future in New York. The offense and ability to adjust is where Refsnyder's game is even more intriguing to those rooting for the success of the Yankees in upcoming seasons. Refsnyder has put in the work necessary to make his swing path one that allows him to make very direct contact with the baseball. With a mechanically sound swing, Refsnyder has been able to develop above average power that should translate at the highest level of baseball. By using the whole field and continuing to work deep counts in his plate appearances, Rob Refsnyder should display that he has the ability to be the Yankees future second basemen. With Refsnyder's diverse skillset, he could get off to the quick start that earns him honors in his rookie season.