New York Yankees

Last weekend, the New York Yankees demoted Rob Refsnyder to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, ending his chase for an Opening Day roster spot.

By Christian Kouroupakis

New York Yankees prospect, Rob Refsnyder probably had the toughest off-season, camp, and week a baseball player could possibly have.

He was in the blueprint as the second baseman of the future, until December when general manager Brian Cashman acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs.

Evidently, that was the right choice as Castro is hitting .378 with only two errors in 16 games this spring, but it put Refsnyder, who thought he’d be the starter, in the rear view mirror.

He came into camp in a similar situation: attempt to pick up yet another new position. When he was drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Arizona, he was naturally a right fielder.

With the organization being so high on Aaron Judge, he shifted over to second base where he excelled. Due to the new second baseman in Castro, and the lack of depth over at the hot corner, manager Joe Girardi made him take reps at third.

Since camp opened up, it seemed as if his versatility as a second baseman, right-fielder, and now third baseman was going to earn him a spot on the 25-man roster. Unfortunately for the 25-year old Korean star, that opportunity ended this week. And man was it hell.

On Friday, while playing third base, he took a sharp ground ball right to his upper lip and left the contest all bloody. The next day, a bad hop came up and smacked Refsnyder in the face yet again. On Sunday, he was told he won’t be in the Bronx on opening day.

Why the former “Most Outstanding Player” of the College World Series is not on the big league roster should baffle you.

Refsnyder’s versatility showed up this spring, and he brings something the Yankees desperately need in 2016, reinforcements. Now, it’s easy to say “he needs to get at bats not ride the pine in the pros,” and I could totally understand that. However, after witnessing the decline and the breaking-down veterans in 2015, it makes all the sense in the world to keep Refsnyder on your major league roster.

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After all, he has the potential to a Ben Zobrist type of player for the Yankees.

Refsnyder has played 233 games in right field, 352 games at second, and 10 games at third between college, the minors, and big leagues. His ability to play all three positions makes him beyond valuable, especially for this team.

What have we been talking about ever since the Yankees were eliminated in the American League Wild Card game last October? New York has to prevent another power outage.

Call me crazy, but if having a guy who can give Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran, and Castro an occasional day off to keep them fresh doesn’t help a team out, then what will?

Scouts say his fielding is lagging behind, but we all know why Refsnyder is so highly regarded in this organization. It’s his bat.

He busted onto the scene in 2014 for the Trenton Thunder, only two years out of college, and slashed .342/.385/.548 in 60 Double-A games with six home runs. After earning a promotion to Triple-A, he slashed .300/.389/.456 and hit eight home runs in 77 games.

In 2015, after slashing .271/.359/.402 with nine home runs in 117 Triple-A games, he got a ticket on the “Scranton Shuttle” and got his first taste of the show. In 16 major league games, Refsnyder slashed .302/.348/.512 and hit two homers.
With numbers like that, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t hear his name announced as a reserve at Yankee Stadium on Monday.

The fact that a man who can hit .300, play three positions, and keep give a fragile team from breaking down is not on the roster, blows my mind. Now, he could still make his way to Yankee Stadium in 2016, but in such a tight-knit division with no clear favorite, the Yankees could use every win they could get.

The reps he’s getting in Triple-A means nothing to a team that wants to win their 28th World Championship. For wanting to “bring the best team up north,” Girardi and Cashman made a huge mistake in leaving Refsnyder off the flight to the Bronx.

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