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Yankees Prospect Profile: Rob Refsnyder

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Can this former outfielder improve on his second base defense in the upper levels of the minor leagues in 2014?

USA TODAY Sports

Background:

The Yankees selected Rob Refsnyder in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Arizona. Just prior to being drafted by the Yankees, Refsnyder was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 College World Series with the champion Wildcats. Refsnyder kicked off his professional career with the Charleston RiverDogs for 46 games immediately following the draft, hitting .241/.319/.364 with four home runs and 11 stolen bases.

In his time at Arizona Refsnyder was used in the outfield, but questions over just how much power he'd develop as a professional player led the Yankees to draft him as a second baseman. The right-handed hitter was born in South Korea before being adopted by parents in the United States.

2013 Results:

Refsnyder was moved from the outfield back to second base, where he played in high school, during his first full season as a professional. His season began back with the RiverDogs, but it took only 13 games before he was promoted to High-A Tampa. In 117 games with the Yankees, Refsnyder put together a .283/.408/.404 batting line with six home runs and 16 stolen bases.

The transition back to second base wasn't a seamless one in 2013 considering that Refsnyder committed 20 errors at the position with Tampa and five errors before departing from Charleston. Those are certainly kinks in his game that the Yankees will be looking for him to improve in 2014 at a higher level of the minor league system.

2014 Outlook:

All things point to Refsnyder kicking off the 2014 season with the Double-A Trenton Thunder as their every day second baseman. If he puts up offensive numbers like he did in 2013 again this season and finds a way to stop throwing the ball away on defense, he could be moved through the system rather quickly considering the gaping hole the Yankees are left with at second base currently.

The only notable prospect really standing in Refsnyder's way is Jose Pirela, who comes with plenty of defensive concerns on his own. A strong season on both sides of the ball could allow Refsnyder to leap frog over Pirela on the depth chart and earn him a promotion to Triple-A before the season is over. The conservative guess for a possible ETA on Refsnyder would likely be late 2015, but being a player drafted out of college does give the team plenty of ability not to worry about keeping him at every level for a whole season. If he proves that he can keep up his offense and keep from being a liability on defense, it's possible that the Yankees might give him a look for the starter's job out of spring training next season.