One of the best parts of spring training is when we, as fans, get to see prospects in-action, perhaps for the very first time. Among those prospects that we get to see in 2014 is second baseman Rob Refsnyder. Although Refsnyder has yet to play at Double-A, he has a golden opportunity in front of him to be the Yankees' long-term solution at second base, perhaps even by 2015.
In his first full-season in the Yankees' organization, Refsnyder hit .293/.413/.413 with 23 stolen bases between both Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. Most of his work came at High-A, where he hit .283/.408/.404 in over 500 plate appearances. What makes Refsnyder impressive is his ability to reach base, as shown by his OBP, which includes a Florida State League-leading 15.8% walk-rate. In fact, while in High-A, Refsnyder walked (78) more times than he struck out (70), despite being young for the league.
Even though he has shown he can hit for a high average, reach base via walk at a very high rate, have a sweet swing for a right-handed batter, and be efficient on the base paths (83% MiLB career stolen base success rate), Refsnyder has been knocked for two things: his lack of power and his struggles defensively at second base.
In regards to the lack of power, Refsnyder hit just six home runs while sporting a rather pedestrian .120 ISO in 2013. A deeper look into the numbers shows that he could have been affected by the pitcher-friendly home environments of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park and Steinbrenner Field. At home, Refsnyder sported a very weak .089 ISO, whereas he posted a much stronger .149 ISO on the road. Refsnyder won't be required to hit for too much power if he reaches the big leagues, anyway, as the league-average ISO for second baseman in 2013 was just .119.
On the defensive side, critics will point to Refsnyder's high error total as a sign that he can't stick at second base long-term, but the fact of the matter is that he has made plenty of strides defensively in what was his first year at the position. In total, Refsnyder committed 25 errors in 441 chances (.943 Fld%) and 108 games. However, the second baseman made only 10 of those errors after May 20 and just two in the final month of the season. MLB.com's Jim Callis believes Refsnyder improved defensively, saying that the soon-to-be-23-year-old can be "adequate-average" at second long-term.
Chad Jennings had a nice piece on Refsnyder recently, which mentioned that the former Arizona Wildcat learned some of the nuances of playing second base from Phillies star Chase Utley during a game just a few days ago. The hard-working Refsnyder also seems very humble, too; he told YES Network's Jack Curry that he'd be immature to think he'd be a part of the Yankees' future at second base given that he has yet to play above High-A; he needs to prove himself at the Double-A level first.
Although he doesn't have the flashy tools like top second base prospects such as Boston's Mookie Betts or St. Louis' Kolten Wong, Refsnyder has the ability to be a quality second baseman at the major league level, assuming he continues to progress at the minor league level. A look at next year's free agent market for second baseman shows that it is very weak, almost to the point where the Yankees may have to stay in-house for their solution at second base, even if the narrative suggests that the Yankees don't give their in-house prospects a chance. If Refsnyder even comes close to last year's offensive production, while continuing to make improvements defensively at second base, the Yankees could very well have their future second baseman in the organization already.