It’s not breaking the news that the New York Yankees have some engaging prospects. Some of which are currently on fire and could possibly benefit the big league club.
By Christian Kouroupakis
What’s the point of having a fountain of youth if you’re not going to take a swim? The New York Yankees don’t necessarily have to dive into it, but they should consider dipping their toes in the water to get a feeling.
Although they won’t spark the team to new heights, there are three prospects that are currently raking at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Each of them are making incredible cases for a promotion to the Bronx.
Baseball’s number two catching prospect, Gary Sanchez, came into Spring Training last February as the favorite to capture the backup catcher’s position but unfortunately fell out of favor for Austin Romine. In 14 games, he slashed 0.91/.259/.136 with a mere OPS of .396 while in Tampa.
After struggling in the opening month of the regular season with a .225 batting average and only two home runs in AAA, Sanchez has been scorching here in the month of May.
In seven games (32 at-bats) the catcher has slashed .406/.424/.781 with three home runs, nine RBI and an OPS of 1.205.
Sanchez won’t be seen in the Bronx –barring injury– as Romine has done an exceptional job doing as the backup to Brian McCann so for now, his hot bat will remain in Northeast Pennsylvania.
To those who desire to play witness to “Judgement Day” as soon as this season, you’ll likely have to remain patient until 2017 no matter how adequately outfielder Aaron Judge performs.
After struggling in his first go around with the Railriders last season (.224 BA, 32 K%), the 6’7″, 275-pound mammoth is slashing .268/.321/.496 with seven home runs including four in the past week alone. The shadow to his light has been the fact that Judge has been striking out at a frightening rate.
In 127 at-bats so far, he has gone down on strikes 34 times which is 28% of the time. Yes, it’s better than it was a year ago, but the 2013 first round draft choice of the New York Yankees is better off being left to develop until he’s ready to take over Carlos Betran’s spot in right field next year.
That leaves us with Rob Refsnyder. You know, the guy that was in the blueprint as the second baseman of the future? That all changed in December when general manager Brian Cashman acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs.
Obviously, there’s no objection to that decision as Castro has been arguably the most reliable hitter in New York’s lineup, but the 5th round pick of the 2012 draft out of the University of Arizona has so much more to offer than to just sit in Scranton.
This season, the Yankees have had Refsnyder placed in numerous defensive positions with the intent of maintaining freshness for a potential utility role.
In Spring Training, Refsnyder was summoned to take reps at third base, he came up mid-year in 2015 to play some second (he actually started in the American League Wild Card Game) and has even played three games at his college position: right field.
This kid has the potential to a Ben Zobrist type of player for the New York Yankees.
What Refsnyder brings to the table is something this veteran-full team needs desperately. And that’s reinforcements. What have we been talking about ever since the Bombers were eliminated in the American League Wild Card game last October? New York has to prevent another power outage which is what they have failed to do so far this season.
Chase Headley is batting an anemic .174, has yet to have an extra-base hit, and could honestly use some bench time to regroup in order to get over the Mendoza line. In addition to that, if having a guy who can give Headley, Beltran, and Castro an occasional day off to keep them fresh doesn’t help a team out, then what will?
Sure, Ronald Torreyes has been a formidable backup utility infielder but nothing compares to the lumber that Refsyder brings with him.
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.
After a slow-ish start to 2016, he currently owns a 16-game hitting streak and owns a .425 batting average in the last 10 games. Overall, he’s slashing .288/.366/.347 with five doubles and a triple in 30 games.
The fact that the former “Most Outstanding Player” of the College World Series who can hit the way he has, play three positions, and keep give a fragile team –that has already lost Alex Rodriguez— from falling apart is not on the roster blows my mind.
Now, he could still make his way to Yankee Stadium in 2016 if a bad injury pops up, but in such a tight-knit division with no clear favorite, the Yankees could use every win they could get. Having Refsnyder as a utility option makes this team better.
The reps he’s getting in Triple-A means nothing to a team that wants to win their 28th World Championship. If the offense that currently has the sixth worst run production in the sport wants a youthful spark, look no further than Robert Daniel Refsnyder.