It has been well documented that Robert Refsnyder has been hitting the ball very well this year. This follows a very quick journey through the Minors after ending his college career with a College World Series title and the MOP award. Last year, the Yankees moved Refsnyder to second base, as they thought his lack of power hitting would play better there than as a corner outfielder. No doubt this move looked even better when Robinson Cano left for Seattle.
Many people tagged Refsnyder as a prospect who could move through the system quickly, but learning a new position was likely to slow this process some. Earlier this week, however, Brian Cashman told the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate to have Refsnyder get back to playing some outfield and added to the rumor mill by saying that if he was to get the call this year it would likely be to play in the outfield. The Yankees sorely need some offense and, after reworking his swing with Marcus Thames in Trenton, Refnsnyder's bat is begging for a chance in the Bronx (he's hitting .308/.431/.551 right now). Particularly as Carlos Beltran faces more injury time and the ineffective Alfonso Soriano was designated for assignment.
Yesterday, Donnie Collins, from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Times/Tribune, wrote about Refsnyder's potential temporary position change. The short version is that he is not a fan of the move, primarily because he fears that having Refsnyder stop his work at second base for the short term (assuming the Yankees still want Refsnyder at second for the long term) will push his development back further. I can see his point, and given the looming question marks surrounding the future of the Yankees' infield I would love to see Refsnyder develop into an everyday second baseman.
The big knock on Refsnyder has been his defense at second base, which really is not surprising given that he only has a season and a half at second under his belt. During the first half of the season, Refsnyder committed nine errors with Trenton. He hasn't had any errors in Scranton, and Collins believes the youngster will make a solid Major League second baseman. Even more notable is that Gene Michael has also had positive things to say about Refsnyder's work at second. While Refsnyder may not be ready to play second at the Major League level, all signs seem to indicate that he should be able to make the transition, which I find to be fantastic news.
The other reason Collins doesn't seem to like this move is due to the Yankees' questionable status as a contender. Obviously, right now it feels like the Yankees are sinking, thanks to the almost absurd amount of injuries they have had this season (Ivan Nova, Beltran, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Beltran, Masahiro Tanaka, Beltran...) and their often anemic offense. Personally, I tend to be more of an optimist and I'm not ready to count this team out. If they are still hanging around and need a little offensive jolt, why not see if Refsnyder can provide it? It can't hurt and worst case scenario he goes back to Scranton and continues to work on playing wherever the Yankees are going to put him.
The other take away from the many discussions about Refsnyder seems to be his leadership potential. Much like Derek Jeter does, Refsnyder is saying all the right things, such as "you want to do what’s best for the Yankees and the best for this team" and "I’m a team player. Whatever the coaching staff wants, I’ll do." The difference is, he seems to be backing it up by playing whatever position the Yankees need or want him to play without a complaint. For a guy who is 23 and on the verge of breaking into the Majors, he seems to be keeping a pretty level head and perhaps this is what has me most excited about him. Refsnyder seems to have the whole package that Yankees fans have been craving for the last few years and I can't wait to see him take his first hacks in the Majors.